COVID-19: Pregnancies among under-18s fell by more than a quarter during first lockdown

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The number of under-18s who became pregnant in England and Wales fell by more than a quarter during the first coronavirus lockdown, official figures show.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed teenage pregnancies were down by nearly 30% during the national shutdown in March 2020.

There were 2,600 conceptions to under-18s between April and June last year - the lowest number in a single quarter in more than 20 years.

It represented a fall of 27.7% compared with the first quarter when there were 3,597.

And compared to the same period in 2019, the April-June figure was down 31.3%, the ONS reported.

The downward trend of teenage pregnancies over the past two decades has accelerated.

Girls from the North West had the highest number of conceptions to under-18s between April and June 2020, at 466.

This was followed by the South East with 340 conceptions, and Yorkshire and the Humber at 292 conceptions.

Overall, there were 10.9 conceptions per thousand girls aged between 15 and 17 in the three months to June 2020, down from 15.2 in the previous quarter.

The figures cover pregnancies that result in a live birth, stillbirth or an abortion.

They do not include miscarriages or pregnancies terminated through illegal abortions.

A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said: "Many teenage mothers provide a loving, caring home for their child, and every parent should be supported.

"We must make sure that when discussing the decline in teenage pregnancies, we do not stigmatise those who choose to have a baby at this stage in their lives.

"The continued decline in unplanned and unwanted teenage pregnancy is reflective of a trend we have seen over the last decade related to changing teen lifestyles and social interactions.

"This is especially unsurprising when considering the impact of the pandemic and related restrictions.

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