The estimated number of conceptions to women aged under 18 in England and Wales in 2011 is the lowest since records began in 1969. In comparison, the estimated number of conceptions to women of all ages is the second highest since records began. Conception statistics include pregnancies that result in either one or more live births or stillbirths or a legal abortion.
The estimated number of conceptions to women aged under 18 in 2011 was 31,051. This compares with 45,495 conceptions in 1969, a decrease of 32%. In contrast, the estimated number of conceptions to all women in 2011 was 909,109 in comparison to 832,700 in 1969, an increase of 9.2%.
The under 18 conception rate for 2011 is also the lowest since records began with 30.9 conceptions per 1,000 women aged 15-17 compared with 47.1 in 1969 (a decrease of 34%).
A comparison of rates across regions in England shows that the North East had the highest under 18 conception rate in 2011, with 38.4 per thousand women aged 15–17. The South East had the lowest rate for women aged under 18 in 2011 with 26.1 per thousand women aged 15–17.
A comparison of under 18 conception rates across local authorities is illustrated in Figure 1. It should be noted that at the local level, statistics for under 18 conceptions can fluctuate between years (either due to an unusually high number of teenage conceptions in a year, or an unusually low number).
Comparable conception data is not available for other European countries. It is possible to compare birth rates across Europe. The United Kingdom has one of the highest number of births per 1,000 women aged 15-17 in the European Union. For 2011 births, only Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary and Malta had higher birth rates for women aged 15-17 than the United Kingdom.
Further information on 2011 conception statistics is available on the ONS website. A time series for conception data is available in the Vital Statistics: Population and Health Reference Tables.
There is also an interactive mapping tool which enables trends in conceptions to be analysed at the local level. The tool will be updated in Summer/Autumn 2013 to include revised rates for 2002-2010 and rates for 2011.
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.
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