- ONS said 2,600 people aged 15-17 became pregnant between March and June 2020
- This marked a decline of a third in the second quarter of 2019 and the lowest since 1998.
- Strict covid rules imposed last spring put the whole country under house arrest
Official figures show teen pregnancies in England and Wales fell to their lowest levels since the first Covid lockdown.
The Office for National Statistics said 2,600 girls under the age of 18 became pregnant between April and June 2020.
This was almost a third lower than the figure for the second quarter of 2019 (3,788) and the lowest since the modern record began in 1998.
For comparison, before the country’s lockdown on March 24, there were 3,597 teen pregnancies during the first three months of 2020.
The teen pregnancy rate has more than halved since 2008, believed to be due to better sex education and access to sexual health services.
But the drop in casual sex during the lockdown is likely to lead to an accelerated decline. There was a similar decline in sexually transmitted infection rates at the start of the pandemic.
Strict COVID regulations imposed last spring have put the entire country under house arrest and made social interactions with others inside the home illegal.
The Office for National Statistics said 2,600 girls under the age of 18 became pregnant between April and June 2020. It was almost a third lower in the second quarter of 2019 (3,788) and the lowest since modern records began in 1998. For comparison, there were 3,597 teenage pregnancies during the first three months of 2020, before the country’s lockdown was imposed on March 24.
Broken down regionally, the North East of England had the highest teen pregnancy rate with 16.2 pregnancies per 100,000 people.
It was followed by the North West where the rate was 15.8, Yorkshire and the Humber 13.2 and the West Midlands (11.5).
At the other end of the scale, London had the lowest rate at 7.5 which was almost half the ratio at the same time in 2019.
Below average rates were also observed in the South West (8.6), East Midlands (8.9) and South East (9). Nationally, Wales had a higher rate (12.8) than England (10.8).
Overall, the second quarter figures for 2020 are the lowest on record. This is four times less than the record high of 11,157 in the fourth quarter of 1998.
One view is that the dramatic decline over the past two decades is down to the Department of Health teen pregnancy strategy launched in 1999, which led to better sex education and access to sexual health services.
Areas with lowest teen pregnancy rates since first lockdown (per 100,000)
- Windsor and Maidenhead Unitary Authority < 1
- Sutton London Borough < 1
- Kingston on Thames London Borough < 1
- Borough of Westminster London < 1
- Oxfordshire County 2.8
- Harrow London Borough 2.8
- Barnet London Borough 2.9
- Swindon Unitary Authority 3.3
- West Berkshire Unitary Authority 3.9
- Camden London Borough 4
Areas with highest teen pregnancy rates since first lockdown (per 100,000)
- St. Helens Metropolitan District 35.9
- Blackpool Unitary Authority 35.8
- Tamside Metropolitan District 26
- Halton Unitary Authority 24
- Kingston upon Hull, City of Unity Authority 23.8
- Isle of Wight Unitary Authority 23.8
- Oldham Metropolitan District 21.7
- Southampton Unitary Authority 21.2
- Stoke-on-Trent Unitary Authority 20.7
- Thurrock Unitary Authority 19.3
Research shows that areas that have received more funding under that initiative have had the greatest reduction in under-18 concepts.
But the decline in teen pregnancies, which are often unplanned, is believed to be a direct effect of the Covid lockdown last spring.
Pubs, bars, restaurants, cinemas and other facilities were closed during the first phase of restrictions and people were allowed to leave home only once per day for exercise.
And the Covid law meant that having sex with someone they didn’t live with could be prosecuted.
Estimates from the London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine show that people reduced their social contacts by about 75 percent last spring.
Lung and heart disease diagnoses drop to HALF during pandemic
Chronic disease diagnoses in England fell by half last year, partly influenced by fewer GP appointments during the pandemic, official figures revealed today.
Chronic pulmonary disease (COPD) – a group of lung diseases that can cause breathing difficulties – was down 51 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.
The number of patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rate that increases the risk of stroke and heart attack, dropped by 26 percent, followed by heart failure and diabetes, both of which dropped by a fifth. There was also a 17 percent drop in cases of coronary heart disease, the report found, and a 16 percent drop in strokes.
Reports from the U.S. Department of Health and the Office for National Statistics show that tens of thousands of fewer people received a late diagnosis, putting their condition at risk of worsening. It claimed that this trend was likely partly due to a ‘decrease in general practice activity’.
NHS figures show that around 23 million fewer face-to-face GP consultations were done in the first wave of the Covid pandemic alone, as NHS services and practices were encouraged to move to virtual settings and fears of the virus ahead of Brits were more reluctant to come. .
It is a criminal offense for any person 16 years of age or older to have any form of sexual contact with anyone who is 15 years of age and younger. It is also a criminal offense to have sex with someone under the age of girls and boys under the age of 16.
ONS figures show that St Helens in Merseyside had the highest teen pregnancy rate of any authority in England at 35.9, three times the national average.
It was followed by Blackpool (35.8). In Tamside, Greater Manchester, the rate was 26 and in Cheshire Halton recorded a rate of 24.
Rates above 20 were seen in Kingston upon Hull (23.8), Isle of Wight (23.8), Oldham (21.7), Southampton (21.2) and Stoke-on-Trent (20.7).
By comparison, the four officers were so few that their rates were zero – Windsor and Maidenhead, and the London Boroughs of Sutton, Kingston and Westminster.
The figures cover pregnancies that result in live birth, stillbirth or miscarriage.
These do not include pregnancies terminated through abortion or illegal abortion.
The date of conception is estimated using recorded pregnancies for stillbirths and stillbirths, and assuming 38 weeks of gestation for live births.
A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPS) said: ‘Many teenage mothers provide a loving, caring home for their child, and each parent should be supported.
‘We must make sure that when discussing the decline in teen pregnancies, we do not stigmatize those who choose to have a child at this stage in their lives.
‘The continued decline in unplanned and unwanted teen pregnancies reflects a trend we have seen over the past decade related to changing adolescent lifestyles and social interactions.
‘This is particularly surprising when considering the impact of the pandemic and related restrictions.
‘We also know that older women have struggled to access essential contraception during lockdown, and as life returns to normal, so should contraceptive services.’
Separate figures show that there was a 32 percent drop in sexually transmitted infection rates in England last year as a result of the pandemic.
According to Public Health England, some 317,901 people tested positive for an STI in 2020, up from 467,096 in 2019.
Rates of chlamydia – the nation’s most common STI – have dropped by 29 percent, while those with gonorrhea have dropped by 20 percent.
The greatest reduction was in cases of genital warts, which fell 46 percent, and herpes, which was down 40 percent.
PHE said the COVID regulations led to “behavior changes” that impacted the decline, such as less casual sex, as well as reduced testing and diagnostics.
Now that restrictions have been eased across the country, the agency warns people to be careful not to ‘swap social distancing for an STI’.