Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Influence of socioeconomic factors on attaining targets for reducing teenage pregnancies.

British Medical Journal 1993; 306 doi: (Published 08 May 1993) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1993;306:1232
  1. T Smith
  1. Tayside Health Board, Dundee.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine the rate of pregnancy and outcome in teenagers in areas of different socioeconomic conditions, and to assess the implication for achievement of government and local targets in reducing unwanted pregnancies in teenagers. DESIGN--Records of pregnancies were obtained from hospital discharge files and rates of live and still births and abortions calculated for each postcode sector. Postcodes were grouped by categories of deprivation and by local government district. SETTING--Tayside, Scotland. SUBJECTS--Teenage girls admitted to National Health Service hospitals for delivery or abortion in 1980-90. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Conception in girls aged under 16 by area of residence and relative proportion leading to live births or terminations. Rate of different outcomes in girls under the age of 20 by area of residence. RESULTS--The pregnancy rate in girls aged under 16 was three times as high, and in all girls under 20 six times as high in the most deprived areas as in the most affluent areas. The proportion of teenage pregnancies ending in abortions was higher in the affluent areas, where two out of three ended in abortion compared with one out of four in the deprived areas. CONCLUSIONS--Although there was a higher pregnancy rate in teenagers in more deprived areas, the proportion ending in abortion was greater in more affluent areas, possibly due to social and parental pressure. The wide geographical variation in patterns of teenage pregnancy indicates the need for a small area rather than a regional approach to setting targets and devising measures of achieving them.