Teenage Pregnancy Rates Soar in Solihull

Article excerpt

Byline: By Shahid Naqvi Education Correspondent

Teenage pregnancy rates in one of the Midlands' most affluent areas have soared, according to Government figures.

The proportion of teenage mothers rose by 7.2 per cent in Solihull between 1998 and 2004.

High teenage pregnancy is normally associated with areas of deprivation, low educational achievement, and in inner city wards.

Solihull is characterised by a large number of well-off professionals and high quality schools, sparking fears the trend is spreading to middle class regions.

Figures out today also show Ministers missed a target of a 15 per cent reduction in the proportion of under 18s getting pregnant.

Despite Tony Blair's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy launch in 1999, the actual reduction across the country was 11.1 per cent.

Health officials in Solihull last night admitted they were unsure why the rate had risen in the face of drops in almost every other part of the country.

"What happened in 2004 was that there was an increase of around 48 extra conceptions," said Dr Chris Godfrey, a consultant in public health at the Solihull Primary Care Trust.

"We did see this blip - we think that was a blip in one year. We have been trying to work out why it happened."

Solihull, along with Herefordshire, was the only authority in the West Midlands not to see a drop in teenage pregnancy.

But Dr Godfrey stressed the actual numbers of new teenage mothers in the area - about 180 for 2004 - was relatively small and, therefore, more prone to fluctuations.

"When you have a smaller number of events a small change makes a big difference and that is what is happening in Solihull," he said.

Dr Godfrey also stressed areas like Chelmsley Wood and Fordbridge, in the north part of Solihull, were as deprived as any inner city area and might be responsible for the rise. …