Teenage pregnancy rates reach lowest level on record
Teenage pregnancy rates in England and Wales have fallen to their lowest level on record.
In 2015, there were 20,351 conceptions to girls under 18, a 10% decrease from 2014 , according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
There were 21 pregnancies out of every 1,000 teenage girls in 2015, compared with 47.1 in 1969 when comparable records began.
In 1969, there were 45,495 teenage pregnancies.
The ONS said there could be a number of factors behind the figures, including a shift in aspirations of young women towards education, a stigma associated with being a teenage mother, better sex education and improved access to contraceptives.
It also named the areas with the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, including Blackpool, Burnley and Kingston upon Hull.
Across all age groups the number of conceptions had risen slightly.
In 2015, the estimated number of conceptions in England and Wales rose by 0.7% to 876,934, from 871,038 the year before.
The figures also show that most babies are conceived out of wedlock.
The ONS said t here has been a long-term rise in the percentage of pregnancies occurring outside marriage or civil partnership, reaching 57% in 2015 in England and Wales.
During 2015, 69% of conceptions outside marriage or civil partnership resulted "in a maternity", compared with 92% of conceptions within marriage or civil partnership.
The ONS said the percentage of abortions varied by age group.
Women aged 30 to 34 had the lowest percentage of abortions in 2015, while girls under 16 had the highest rate at six in 10 conceptions.
Overall, 21.2% of conceptions led to abortion, the figures show.
ONS statistician Nicola Haines said: " Under 18 conception rates have declined by 55% since 1998, whilst for women aged 30 and over, conception rates have increased by 34%."
Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the Local Government Association's community and wellbeing board, said: "The Government's decision to make sex and relationships education compulsory in schools will help young people to develop healthy relationships, delay early pregnancy, and look after their sexual health.
"However, we are concerned that all this good work could be put at risk by the false economy of government cuts to councils' public health funding, and that the drop in teenage conception rates will be even harder to sustain.
"Getting it right on teenage pregnancy will not only make a difference to individual lives, it will help narrow inequalities and reduce long-term demand on health and social care services."
Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: "It is good news that the rate of teenage pregnancy continues to decline, as it is linked to poor future health for both parents and babies.
"We want to maintain this downward trend and support young people to make informed choices so that they can secure the best possible future for them and their children."