Teenage pregnancy rates among young women vary widely. The Netherlands, Slovenia and Switzerland have the lowest rates of teenage births (below 5 per 1,000) while figures in Romania, the UK and the US are higher (above 29 per 1,000). The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy suggests a number of reasons for sexual initiation (and as a consequence, pregnancy) including curiosity, opportunity, real or imagined peer pressure, the wish not to be left behind, being in a relationship, fear of losing a boy or girlfriend, the need to be loved or the belief that sex equals love, and media influences that glamorize sex, and alcohol.
Reducing teenage pregnancy has been a major Public Health priority in the UK since 1997. It is reported to present a cost to the NHS and beyond and lead to a number of poor physical and social outcomes such as social deprivation, low breast feeding rates, and mental ill-health. Groups who are more vulnerable to becoming teenage parents include young people who are in or leaving care, homeless, underachieving at school, children of teenage parents, members of some ethnic groups, involved in crime, and/or living in areas with higher social deprivation.
Between 1998 and 2008, the teenage conception rate in England and Wales fell by 13.3% for under 18s, although rates still remain similar to those in the 1950s and 60s. Some critics have argued against the validity of making national comparisons and have disputed whether teenage pregnancy is a problem, challenging the belief that it a health problem or produces poorer outcomes for young parents and children  . It has been argued that evidence indicating poor outcomes for teenage parents is selective and fails to report positive outcomes such as protection from diabetes and breast cancer, together with better obstetric outcomes.
These tangible health outcomes are complemented by the positive experiences of young parenthood found among many teenage parents and challenge the pessimistic account provided in policy making which has been described as demonizing young motherhood.
292. Ranging from about a rate of 12 per 1000 women aged 15-19 in Italy to about 59 in Bulgaria. WHO (2009) A snapshot of the health of young people in Europe, http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/Life-stages/child-and-adolescenthealth/publications/2009/a-snapshot-of-young-peoples-health-in-europe
293. SEU (1999) The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy. Social Exclusion Unit. HMSO.
294. SEU (1999). The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy. Social Exclusion Unit. HMSO.
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