SUNDERLAND is one of the top 10 areas in England and Wales for teenage pregnancies, according to new health figures.
The statistic revealed that 207 girls in the city aged 15 to 17 conceived during 2012, a rate of 43.1 per 1,000 females in that age category.
It means that Wearside is ninth in the national table.
In County Durham, the rate stood at 33.7, while it was even lower in South Tyneside, at 31.1.
Middlesbrough topped the league with a conception rate of 52.
The town was closely followed by Stoke-on-Trent in second, while Burnley was ranked third.
The under-age conception rate nationally is now at its lowest level since records began in 1969, according to the Office for National Statistics, which has published the report.
However, instances are highest in the North East, with the region having the highest under 18 conception rate – 35.5 per thousand women aged 15 to 17 – in England.
Research shows that young women from socially-disadvantaged backgrounds and those with poor educational outcomes are more likely to have a teenage pregnancy, while teenage mothers and their children are at increased risk of poverty and poor health.
Historically, areas with high teenage conception rates have also had relatively high deprivation measures, such as unemployment rates.
The report’s authors added that other population characteristics, such as ethnicity and educational attainment levels can also have an impact.
Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for children’s services, Coun Pat Smith, said: “Teenage pregnancy is a national issue which we work hard with a range of partners, including health, to address at local level.
“We have a number of sexual health and education programmes in place and our long-term aim is to continually reduce teenage pregnancy rates in our city.
“Targeted support and resources are provided to help those most in need before and after conception and birth.
“For that approach to work and teenage pregnancy rates to decline, we all need to work together.”