Inconsistencies in the approach to teenage pregnancies may be to blame for the rising conception rate among under-18s, an expert has claimed.
Jules Hillier, head of communications at sexual health charity Brook, commented on provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics, which show that the conception rate increased from 40.9 per 1,000 15 to 17-year-olds to 41.9 between 2006 and 2007.
Ms Hillier noted that the rate of teenage pregnancies is still lower than it was in 1998, but blamed a "complex mixture" of factors for the recent rise, including poor delivery of national strategy at a local level, the lack of compulsory sexual health education in schools and funding cuts.
"During the last recession the rates of teenage pregnancy went up and we know that there are links to deprivation, poverty and lack of aspirations," she noted.
"Looking to the future, and with possible high levels of youth unemployment, the rate of teenage pregnancies may go up again."