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One in 20 mid-teen girls falls pregnant in Medway

Latest figures reveal toll of teen pregnancy. Posed by model
Latest figures reveal toll of teen pregnancy. Posed by model

Shocking figures just released show the toll of teen pregnancies in Medway.

In the Medway towns, one in 20 girls from the 15 to 17-year-old age group became pregnant, according to statistics just released - accounting for a total of 258 pregnancies in 2007.

The area has seen the number of teenage pregnancies rise by almost five per cent.

But Medway health chiefs are keen to point out the figures relate to a period two years ago, and don't take into account steps taken since.

Meanwhile, in Kent the number of teenage girls getting pregnant has fallen by more than 10 per cent since 1998.

There were 1,054 teenage pregnancies across the county in 2007, accounting for 37.2 pregnancies in every 1,000 15 to 17-year-olds.

Sallyann Ironmonger, head of health improvement for Medway, admitted they are a long way from reaching their 2010 targets of halving 1998's rate of pregnancies by 2010.

She said: "We do have to bear in mind though that these figures relate to 2007 and don't reflect the amount of investment and work that has taken place since then.

"It reflects the complexity of the issue. Teenage pregnancy is caused by a range of different risk factors; we know there is a link between high levels of teenage pregnancy and high levels of poverty and deprivation."

Kent also has a long way to go before it reaches its 2010 target - teenage pregnancies would have to be reduced by a further 38 per cent before the number of pregnancies is half that of the 1998 total.

Heather Keen, the teenage pregnancy strategy co-coordinator for the county, is pleased with the result.

She said: "One of the things we've really invested in is an outreach worker service, which targets the most vulnerable young people who we know are at greatest risk of teenage pregnancy and often aren't in school so aren't getting any sex education from there either. By working in communities then we can really reach these people and help them to access the services and support they need."

The Kent teenage pregnancy partnership has also focused on improving the sex and relationship education they provide after young people complained that it was too biological, the emphasis has now shifted to incorporate discussions about feelings and relationships and how to improve those skills.

According to Ms Ironmonger, since 2007 Medway Council has invested in a number of new services and a team of people to improve sex and relationship education and work with parents in helping their children make good decisions about sex and relationships.

She said: "I think it's vital that young people who are sexually active are able to access free and confidential contraceptive and sexual health services and that's something we still are trying to improve, on top of what we have already done. The Medway condom distribution scheme offers free condoms accompanied by sexual health information, which is now available through 130 trained professionals and over 20 distribution sites and we work with pharmacies to provide the morning after pill, which can also signpost to other services available."

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