THE number of teenage girls aged under 18 falling pregnant in East Lancashire has halved in nearly two decades, official figures show.

Girls aged 15 to 17 accounted for 27 pregnancies in every 1,000 in 2015 compared to 59 in 1998, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Data shows Burnley has the highest number of teenage girls falling pregnant, with 41 pregnancies in every 1,000 in 2015, compared to 82 in 1998.

In second place is Hyndburn with 34 pregnancies in 2015 and 72 in 1998, followed by Pendle with 27 in 2015 and 64 in 1998.

While Blackburn saw 25 girls under 18 in every 1,000 fall pregnant in 2015, compared to 58 in 1998.

In fifth place is Rossendale with 22 pregnancies in 2015, significantly lower than the 60 recorded in 1998.

Ribble Valley is the borough in East Lancashire with the lowest number of teenage girls aged under 18 falling pregnant, with 12 in every 1,000 in 2015, compared to 20 in 1998.

Nationally, the under 18 conception rate in 2015 was 21 conceptions per thousand women aged 15 to 17 - the lowest rate recorded since comparable statistics were first produced in 1969.

Health chiefs and campaigners have welcomed the fall which they put down to drives to ‘promote safe sex’.

East Lancashire’s patients’ champion Russ McLean said he was ‘happily surprised' by the figures but called for more to be done.

He said: “I’m very happy as it shows the campaigns are working to promote safe sex.

“Teenage pregnancy is a reality and does happen, as I know families myself in East Lancashire who are going through this.

“So I am very surprised by the figures, as we do tend to be a bit prudish about sex education.

“The government have done some good work on this but more can be done.

“East Lancashire is a very deprived area and some young men may not be able to afford contraception.

“So I’d like to see condoms offered for free in all sexual health clinics and by GPs.

“But overall these are figures which should be welcomed.”

Dianne Draper, sexual health lead at Public Health England North West described the fall as ‘encouraging’.

She said: “It is encouraging to see that the pregnancy rate for Under 18’s continues to decline nationally and locally.

“It is a significant achievement and proof that a concerted effort has made a real difference.

“We must continue to prioritise young people’s sexual health in the North West through access to good quality information, education and contraception to ensure a continued downward trend.”

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, director of public health and wellbeing for Lancashire county council, said: "Addressing under 18 conceptions is a key part of our plans to reduce health inequalities between communities across Lancashire.

"We're pleased these figures are showing a decrease in conceptions.

"We've been working with NHS organisations, schools and other partners to spread the safe sex message, make sure free condoms are available and ensure young people can get good advice from trained professionals when they need it.   

"We've also introduced new, more modern, sexual health services for young people and adults where they can access information and advice more easily, get appointments at times that suit them and access the services using smartphones and the latest digital technology.

"We'll continue to work closely with other organisations to address this important health issue."

Dr Aliya Bhat, GP lead for children, young people and maternity for Pennine Lancashire, said: “It is really positive to hear that under 18 conception figures have reduced.

“We work closely with Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust to promote safe sex and reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

“We would always encourage young people who are engaging in sexual activity to use contraception and be aware of the risks of sexually transmitted infections.

“Young people can seek free sexual health and contraception advice through the Lancashire Care Contraception and Sexual Health (CaSH) Services in Partnership with Brook.

“They can speak to trained staff in confidence about a range of issues without fear of judgement.

“Lancashire CaSH can be contacted on 01772 401140 or visit their website at”