Suburbs See Sharpest Rise in Teenage Births; Showbiz Bump: Britney Spears

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Byline: Ian Drury

AFFLUENT middle-class areas are experiencing the sharpest rises in teenagers giving birth, figures reveal.

The number of teenaged mothers is rising in two out of three constituencies - and has almost tripled in some of the leafiest suburbs..

Teenage maternity is also rising in two-thirds of the areas already worst affected, despite being targeted by Government policies to tackle the problem.

The damning statistics will further undermine Labour's claims that is getting to grips with the issue through greater sex education and contraceptive use.

Experts said young women are over-reliant on the morning-after pill or are having babies to copy so-called 'celebrity' pregnancies.

They also claimed there is a growing distaste for abortion among well-off families.

Last month official figures showed a 2.7 per cent increase in the rate of under-18 pregnancies in England and Wales last year. Britain already has the highest teenage pregnancy levels in Europe.

The latest figures uncovered by the Tories provide the first seat-byseat snapshot of the number of teenage girls giving birth.

They show women aged under 20 gave birth to 42,300 babies in England and Wales in 2006.

A large number of the constituencies with the highest increases would traditionally be considered wellheeled areas. A significant proportion have Tory MPs - usually voted in by affluent voters in suburbia or the shires.

The Nottingham suburb of Rushcliffe - whose MP is former Health Secretary Ken Clarke - saw the biggest increase in teenage births.

In 2006, 44 teenagers gave birth compared with only 16 in 2002 - a rise of 175 per cent.

Next on the list was the well-to-do West Yorkshire town of Pudsey, where the number of maternities to mothers aged under 20 rose from 26 to 60, or 130 per cent..

And the leafy Surrey constituency of Epsom and Ewell saw a 113 per cent rise - from 15 to 32.

Other well-heeled areas which saw huge increases included Finchley and Golders Green in North London (81 per cent), Haltemprice and Howden in East Yorkshire (76 per cent), East Devon (75 per cent) and the affluent Cheshire seat of Altrincham and Sale West (73 per cent).

The National Childbirth Trust wants schools to focus less on sex education and more on the realities of being a parent. …