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UK has 'highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe'

By Vicky Shaw

Published 18/10/2007

Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in western Europe, according to a study into the sexual health of women.

The report, by Population Action International, found that the number of adolescent girls falling pregnant was worryingly high, and that teenagers run a higher risk of complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

It also ranked 130 countries, comprising 96 per cent of the world population, into categories from highest to lowest sexual and reproductive risk for women – the highest risk being placed at No 1 and the lowest at 130.

The study's authors looked at factors including HIV prevalence, teenage birth rates, maternal deaths and infant mortality rates.

The UK lagged behind countries including Croatia, Estonia, Cuba and the Czech Republic for levels of female sexual health. The Netherlands had the lowest risk, ranked at 130, while the UK was placed at 112.

Women in the lowest-risk category tended to have high incomes and the risk of death from pregnancy or delivery was "extremely low", the report said. Infant mortality rates were rare and contraceptive use was high, it added. Switzerland, Singapore and Belgium were among the safest countries.

Women's sexual health was found to be riskiest in sub-Saharan Africa, with women in Niger ranked at No 1.

Irish Independent

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