With 27.9 conceptions per thousand women aged 15-17 in England and Wales in 2012, the under 18 conception rate has fallen to the lowest level since records began in 1969 (a decrease of 40.8%). Nearly half of all conceptions to women aged under 18 (48.7%) led to a legal abortion in 2012. In 1969, 12.5% of conceptions ended in a legal abortion.
Across England, the North East had the highest under 18 conception rate in 2012 (35.5 per thousand women aged 15-17) and the South East and the East both had the lowest rates (23.2 per thousand women aged 15-17). Teenage pregnancy trends can be compared for all local authorities in England and Wales from 1998 onward, using our interactive mapping tool.
Table 1: The ten areas with the highest conception rate for women aged under 18 in 2012
England and Wales
|Rank||Local Authority||Number of Conceptions 2012||Conception rate per thousand women aged 15–17|
Table source: Office for National Statistics
Why are teenage pregnancies higher in certain areas?
Research shows that young women from socially disadvantaged backgrounds and those with poor educational outcomes are more likely to have a teenage pregnancy, while teenage mothers and their children are at increased risk of poverty and poor health. Historically, areas with high teenage conception rates have also had relatively high deprivation measures, such as unemployment rates, but this doesn't mean that one factor causes the other. Other population characteristics such as ethnicity and educational attainment levels can have an impact.
Teenage pregnancy rates can be compared to various measures of deprivation using our conceptions deprivation analysis toolkit. When analysing figures for areas with small populations, it is important to take into account the numbers involved, as a slight change when numbers are small can lead to large changes in the rate.
How do teenage pregnancies compare with older pregnancies?
Over the last couple of decades, conception rates among women aged 30 and over have generally increased while rates among women aged under 25 have generally fallen. For women aged 25-29, the rate fell from 138.0 per thousand women aged 25-29 in 1990 to 114.2 per thousand women aged 25-29 in 2001, and rose again to 127.3 per thousand in 2012.
The conception rate for women aged 40 and over more than doubled from 6.6 conceptions per thousand women aged 40 and over in 1990 to 14.0 in 2012. For women aged 35-39 the rate almost doubled from 33.6 conceptions per thousand women aged 35-39 in 1990 to 63.4 in 2012. Women may be having children at older ages because of: increased participation in higher education and the labour force, increasing costs associated with having children, labour market uncertainty, housing factors and instability of partnerships ( Jefferies, 2008 (297 Kb Pdf) ; Ní Bhrolcháin, 2012).
Why are conception statistics important?
Conception statistics are used across government, local government, academia, the voluntary and community sector, and the health sector. For instance, they are used to measure the success of policies on access to contraception, sex education, sexual health services and antenatal service demand.
Where can I find out more about conception statistics?
If you’d like to find out more about conceptions statistics read Conception Statistics, England and Wales, 2012. For more information on data quality, legislation and procedures relating to conception statistics see Conceptions Metadata (143.5 Kb Pdf) and Conceptions Quality and Methodology Information document (131.5 Kb Pdf) . If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d like to hear them. Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Conception statistics include pregnancies that result in either one or more live births or stillbirths (a maternity) or a legal abortion under the Abortion Act 1967 (an abortion). They do not include miscarriages or illegal abortions. Conception rates are based on the latest mid-year population estimates for the data year in question.
The date of conception is estimated using recorded gestation for abortions and stillbirths, and assuming 38 weeks gestation for live births.