Teenage pregnancy at 25-year low

Gap between under-20s pregnancy rate in richest and poorest areas continues to narrow

Tuesday 2nd July 2019

Teenage pregnancy rates in Scotland are at their lowest level since records began in 1994, according to NHS figures released today.

Joe FitzPatrick, the public health minister, says he is “particularly pleased” the gap between teen pregnancies in the richest and poorest areas continued to narrow as rates fell fastest in the most deprived communities.

But teenagers in deprived areas are still more likely to go through with a pregnancy rather than have an abortion.

In 2017, nearly 45% of pregnancies among under-20s ended with an abortion.

More than 4,000 under-20s fell pregnant, more than two-thirds of whom were 18-and 19-year-olds.

Dundee has the highest rate teenage pregnancies, with 45 for every 1,000 women, while East Renfrewshire is the highest at just under 14.

Across Scotland the average was 30.  

Evidence suggests the costs of becoming a young mum can push some young women into poverty and associated poor health outcomes and the Scottish Government has a ten-year strategy targeting a ‘cycle of deprivation’ linked to pregnancies in young parents.

A recent progress report warns kids with mums aged under-25 are much more likely to grow up in poverty.

Alongside Scottish Government efforts, experts believe the steady decline since 2007 has also been driven by a wider trend of teens becoming more cautious in their lifestyles and drinking less.   

Wales, England and Northern Ireland have all seen a ‘dramatic decline’ in teenage pregnancy, according to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

Researchers believe this is down to a combination of factors including a depressed economic outlook, access to contraception and more high-quality, though still patchy, sex and relationships education.

Mr FitzPatrick said: “This reduction means rates are the lowest since monitoring began in 1994. I’m particularly pleased that the gap in teenage pregnancy rates between the most and least deprived areas is narrowing too.

“We have taken significant action in this area and are working with partners to further support young people around both pregnancy and parenthood.

“This includes the introduction of our ‘Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy’ in 2016, which aims to address the cycle of deprivation associated with pregnancy in young people and ensure services put young people at the centre of decision-making, helping them to achieve their potential as young people and as parents.”