Teenage pregnancy


For some young women having a child when young can represent a positive turning point in their lives, for many more teenagers bringing up a child is extremely difficult and often results in poor outcomes for both the teenage parent and the child.  Teenage mothers:

  • are less likely to finish education
  • are more likely to bring up their child alone and in poverty
  • have a higher risk of poor mental health than older mothers

Infant mortality rates for babies born to teenage mothers are around 60% higher than for babies born to older mothers. The children of teenage mothers have an increased risk of living in poverty and poor quality housing and are more likely to have accidents and behavioural problems.

Most teenage pregnancies are unplanned and around half end in an abortion. As well as it being an avoidable experience for young women, abortions represent an avoidable cost to the NHS.

Confidential information on sexual health services in Bracknell Forest are available on the Bracknell Forest Council website.

Key inequalities and risk factors

See also the young people’s sexual health chapter of the JSNA.

Service providers should be alert to a number of issues and be able to actively provide support and make onward referral in this area which is still affected by embarrassment and stigma and which prevents young people from seeking information and advice.

Deprivation is a key factor in under 18 conception rates, consider:

  • Children in poverty – 63% higher risk for children born to women under-20
  • Adolescents not in education, employment or training (NEET) – 21% of the estimated number of 16-18 female NEETs are teenage mothers
  • Adult poverty – By age 30, women who were teenage mothers are 22% more likely to be living in poverty than mothers giving birth aged 24 or over. Compared with older fathers, young fathers are twice as likely to be unemployed, even after taking account of deprivation

The government 2013 Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England sets out a number of sexual health influences to look out for when assessing young people who may be vulnerable:

  • Low levels of awareness of risk and impact from personal beliefs, attitudes, peer pressure, family or social norms, e.g. attitudes to contraception.
  • Self-esteem and confidence impact on the way people feel about their bodies, their attractiveness and their physical value. People with low body confidence may be more likely to engage in risky behaviour, such as unprotected sex, this can be heightened in children in the care system and more evidence is emerging around the role of child sexual exploitation
  • Sexual and domestic violence and sexual exploitation and abuse can be issues for men, women and children. More than one-third (38%) of all rapes recorded by the police in England and Wales in 2010/11 were committed against children under 16 years of age
  • An individual or family history of drug or alcohol abuse – resulting in lower inhibitions and poor judgements regarding sexual activity, vulnerability and risky sexual behaviour, such as not using contraception or condoms
  • Alcohol consumption by young people leads to an increased likelihood that they will have sex at a younger age, and alcohol misuse is linked to a greater number of sexual partners and more regretted or coerced sex

Issues can be better addressed through universal, accessible information and advice for children and young people from puberty as well as parents and families to help them support children avoid and prevent future pregnancies.

Facts, figures and trends

Under 16 conceptions

Office for National Statistics 2014 data shows the number of conceptions for under 16 year olds is small and has fallen by 60% between 2009 and 2014.  The conceptions rate is also measured in the Public Health Outcomes Framework.

Using data on the conception rate for under 16 year olds per 1,000 female population aged 13 to 15, the graph below shows the number of pregnancies (which led to either a maternity or a termination of pregnancy by abortion) averaged over three year periods (2008 to 2010 and 2012 to 2014).  Disclosure control protocols have been applied to the data to ensure that individuals cannot be identified, and aggregates over three years gives a better indication of trend:

Conception rates per 1,000 women aged 13-15, 3 year aggregates

There were fewer conceptions to under 16 year olds living in Bracknell Forest than there are on average nationally and across the south east region.  The proportion of conceptions to under 16 years olds in Bracknell Forest resulting in termination was similar to the national and south east figures, however, due the small numbers, the numbers offer low reliability.

Under 18 year olds

The Public Health Outcomes Framework uses the same 2014 ONS data to report rate and number of conceptions in under 18 year olds (girls aged 15-17).

The graph below shows declining trend over a 10 year period from 2004 to 2014 where conception rates in Bracknell Forest are lower than national averages.  Additional data from the Berkshire Public Health Team shows that Bracknell Forest rates are also comparable with other local authorities with similar levels of deprivation.

Under 18 conceptions Bracknell Forest 1998-2014


Between 2004 and 2012 the percentage of conceptions leading to abortion in Bracknell Forest remained at around 60% and rose from 2013.  This percentage is higher than the national percentage and that of the south east region as a whole.  Caution must be exercised when using percentages with small numbers.

% Under 18 conceptions leading to termination 2004-2014

Berkshire Public Health Team data states that in 2014, 81.0% of NHS-funded abortions were performed under 10 weeks gestation in Bracknell Forest. This was similar to the England rate of 80.4%. The earlier abortions are performed the lower the risk of complications. Prompt access to abortion and enabling provision earlier in pregnancy is also cost-effective and an indicator of service quality.

Prevention, care and support services

Confidential information on sexual health services in Bracknell Forest are available on the Bracknell Forest Council website.

The Young People’s Sexual Health Advice and Guidance team provides confidential sexual health clinics over school lunch times at the following schools:

  • Brakenhale School
  • Easthampstead Park School
  • Edgbarrow School
  • Garth Hill College
  • Sandhurst School

At Bracknell and Wokingham College on Tuesday – 10.30am to 1pm and Friday – 10.30am to 1pm.

Community sexual health clinics are available Tuesday – 2.30pm to 4pm at Coopers Hill Youth and Community Centre (room 6) and Wednesday – 2.30pm to 4pm at The Spot, Sandhurst.

Safe Sex Berkshire is the locally commissioned sexual health, information and advice service for Berkshire residents and professionals.  The site can provide information on local services and groups, contraception, pregnancy, STI testing, sex and relationships, keeping safe and emergency help and support for victims of sexual violence.

Want to know more?

Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England (Department of Health, 2013) – sets out a number of sexual health influences.

Good progress but more to do – Teenage pregnancy and young parents (Public Health England & Local Government Association, 2016) – background information and advice on tackling teenage pregnancy.

National Child and Maternal Health Intelligence Network – Dynamic Report for Bracknell Forest gives high level statistical data and analysis on Under 18 conceptions.

Personal, Health and Social Education (PHSE) delivery and support – is available from The Young People’s Sexual Health Advice and Guidance team.

Supporting public health; children, young people and families (PHE, updated 2016) – guidance to support local authorities and providers in the commissioning and delivery of services across the highest impact health and wellbeing outcomes for children and young people through the 0-19 healthy child programme.

Teenage mothers and young fathers: support framework (Public Health England, 2016) – makes clear that poor outcomes are not inevitable if “early, coordinated and sustained support is put in place, which is trusted by young parents and focused on building their skills, confidence and aspirations” and the relevance of tailored services and resources to teenage mothers and young fathers is a key element in building trusted relationships and engagement with services,

This page was created on 2 April 2014 and updated on 24 May 2016. Next review date July 2017.

Cite this page:

Bracknell Forest Council. (2016). JSNA – Teenage Pregnancy. Available at: jsna.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/developing-well/children-and-young-peoples-health/teenage-pregnancy (Accessed: dd Mmmm yyyy)

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