THE number of teenagers getting pregnant in Eastbourne has dropped by nearly a quarter in just three years.
Figures released by the local NHS recently showed that throughout 2010 just 62 girls under 18 fell pregnant, compare to 86 in 2007.
That number compares favourably to the rate in nearby Hastings which, despite having a smaller population, saw 76 teen pregnancies in 2010 – the latest year for which statistics are available. That though is less than the 105 Hastings recorded in 2007.
Health experts have welcomed the news and praised a series of recent projects being pioneered by the NHS and East Sussex County Council.
Working in partnership, the two bodies have run a successful online campaign co-designed by local young people which made use of websites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
One such information drive was based around the slogan, ‘Which one is easier to carry?’ and asked teenagers to make a simple decision between carrying a condom or carrying a baby.
Trudy Mills, a maternity expert who worked on the campaigns, said, “We’re seeing the results of working with young people to develop messages that will appeal to them, and using platforms that they use every day like Facebook.”
Improved access to sexual advice clinics was also deemed a contributing factor to the drop, with many facilities offering improved sexual health screening, free condoms and advice under one roof whereas elsewhere in the country young people are often forced to visit different clinics for different services.
Last but not least, another new scheme encourages young people thinking of experimenting sexually to register and talk with youth workers or school nurses at a host of sites across the county – with 200 already up and running in East Sussex.
These range from GP surgeries, pharmacies, NHS sexual health clinics to colleges and youth centres. And, as well as giving out condoms, many provide chlamydia screening and most of the GPs and pharmacies provide emergency contraception. The scheme is growing – 29 new outlets have signed up in the last nine months.