New figures reveal that the teenage pregnancy rate in Sunderland is significantly higher than the average for England.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service said the UK had seen a dramatic decline in teenagers becoming pregnant over the last two decades, but warned cuts to local health budgets could be fuelling regional disparities.
New Office for National Statistics data shows that 27 per 100,000 women aged 15 to 17 got pregnant in the three months to March 2018, the latest period for which data is available.
The rate is well above the England average of 17 in 100,000 during the same period.
A BPAS spokesperson commented that the role of council-run sexual health services in preventing teenage pregnancy should not be underestimated.
They said: “We know that public health budgets have faced deep cuts in recent years, with over a third of local authorities reducing, or planning to reduce, their contraceptive services since 2015. It is important that services are maintained so that regional variations, which will be due to complex factors, do not become more pronounced.”
Teenage pregnancy has fallen in Sunderland in recent years, but the change has been slower than across England as a whole.
There were 27 pregnancies in Sunderland in the first three months of 2018, compared to 51 in 2011 – a fall of 47 per cent.
Across England, the number of pregnancies fell by around 50 per cent over the same period, from 7,373 to 3,678.
The BPAS spokesperson added: “In the UK we have seen a dramatic decline in teen pregnancy rates over the last two decades, and these latest ONS figures are very much in keeping with this long-term trend.
“This decline is often attributed to government strategies such as improved sex education and contraception provision, but our research also indicates that shifts in young people’s attitudes and lifestyles have played a significant role.
“Increased use of social media among young people and more focus on their family life and future, as well as a decline in alcohol consumption, have all contributed to the fall in teen pregnancies.”