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Radio Sandwell Local News

Birmingham underage pregnancy figures shock

2014-09-26 11:42:34


A mum-to-be

Eight girls aged just 13 had babies in the West Midlands in the last five years - leading to claims youngsters are being "let down" over sex education.

The shocking figures also reveal that since 2009 93 youngsters at the age of 14 gave birth in the region.

Almost two underage girls a week are giving birth in the region.

Overall 580 females under the age of 16 - when they legally can have sex - had babies over this period.

The extent of teenage pregnancies left one Birmingham MP shocked, and led to calls for youngsters considered 'at risk' to be targeted with special educational schemes.

Failure to act could lead to young girls attempting to bring up childen when they are wholly unequipped to do so.

Selly Oak Labour MP Steve McCabe, who is Shadow Children and Families spokesman said: "I am worried that there's simply not enough sex and relationship education in schools and with the virtual destruction of youth services there's even less opportunity for children to get access to this kind of education.

"We need a comprehensive strategy for Personal, Social and Health Education in all schools and other youth settings and young people need access to contraception and sexual health advice and we need targeted programmes for those considered most at risk.

"It is good that the overall rate of teenage pregnancies in the UK is continuing to fall but it's still higher here than any other Western European country."

Mr McCabe said that in some cases having children was a deliberate choice: "There seems to be some evidence to suggest that young women growing up in very disadvantaged circumstances both emotionally and materially choose to resort to motherhood as a means of gaining some status and identity.

"Unfortunately they are often least equipped to care for their children, that's why targeted intervention is so important."

The figures also revealed an overall upward trend of women over the age of 40 having children.

In 2008-9 there were 2148 births over this age, and in 2012-13 this had risen to 2242.

In the last five years 22 women over the age of 50 had babies in the West Midlands.

The information was released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Dr Adrian Phillips, Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council, said: "Every birth is a joyous occasion and most children are cherished. However, we have to understand the effects of motherhood on very young parents as well as the long term effects on the child.

"These mums are children themselves and often are not fully grown, physically or mentally. This is important in coping with the needs and demands of a baby. We know that their education is badly affected as is their ability to form good social relationships in this crucial time of their life.

"Very young mums invariably end up living at home with their own parents as they themselves are children. This has an impact on the wider family.

"We know that both parent and baby are more likely to struggle financially in the ensuing years and the birth will impact upon other aspects of wellbeing.”

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