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Fall in teen pregnancies welcomed

Fall in teen pregnancies welcomed
The Families Commission welcomes the substantial drop in teen pregnancy reported in the State of the Nation released today

The Families Commission welcomes the substantial drop in teen pregnancy reported in the State of the Nation released today.

Pregnancies among teenagers aged 15 to 19 years dropped 14% between 2010 and 2011. Rates amongst young teenagers, aged under 15, also declined.

Chief Families Commissioner Belinda Milnes says, “Teen births are a social issue, as very early parenting, before age 18, is associated with the greatest risk of poor outcomes for children especially when combined with other risk factors.

“Evidence also tells us that early parenthood can also have far-reaching physical, social, economic and emotional consequences for both teenage parents and their children.”

The Commission has developed a robust evidence-base on teen pregnancy which is being used by a range of government agencies and researchers to help reduce rates.

Ms Milnes says, “The Commission has identified the following priority areas to prevent repeat teen pregnancy and to improve support for teenage parents:

• relationship education and ongoing contraceptive advice for two years after the birth
• intensive support for transition to further education, training and employment
• culturally appropriate support for Māori teen parents
• well-connected local networks focused specifically on helping teen parents
• accessible support for teen fathers that engages them in parenting.”

About 4,000 teenagers give birth each year with just over two-thirds of these births to 18 and 19 year olds. A second or subsequent birth during teen years is rare.

Teen pregnancy rates declined significantly between 1962 and 1985 and have remained fairly stable since, at about 6.5 percent of all births.

Teen births are more common in lower socio-economic communities. Gisborne and Northland have relatively high rates of teen childbearing.

Ethnicity is also a factor even after considering socio-economic information. Māori teenage women have significantly higher rates of teen parenthood. Māori make up 21 percent of the population aged 15–19 years.

ENDS

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