TEENAGE pregnancies in a borough have dropped significantly, new figures reveal.

Conception rates among under 18s in Blackburn with Darwen are the lowest since 1998.

Two decades ago pregnancy rates in Blackburn and Darwen were 58.2 per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 17.

This fell to 20.3 per 1,000 in 2016, the year covered by the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. The drop of 65.1 per cent is among the largest in the North West and compares to the regional average of 55.7 per cent.

A total of 59 girls in the age group became pregnant in the borough in 2016.

This was down from 74 the previous year and from 169 in 1998.

The conception rate also fell 19.8 per cent since 2015.

Dominic Harrison, director of public Health at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said one of the reasons for the fall was an increase in the availability of good and appropriate contraceptive advice and sexual health services in the borough.

He said: "We have also had good data from local children’s and public health services on who is most at risk of unwanted pregnancy and what can be done to support them to make healthier choices.

"The good services provided by health visitors and school nurses have played a part, along with targeted campaigns and awareness programmes."

Amy Nolan, service manager for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust's Contraception and Sexual Health (CaSH) service, said: "Record lows of teenage pregnancies in Blackburn and Darwen are due to good uptake in long-acting, reversible contraception and our service’s single point of access number, website, clinic times and locations which ensure easy access to sexual health services.

"We have excellent working relationships with partner organisations such as Brook, which works with under 25s to help improve sexual health.

"Our community education team also promotes positive sexual health messages among under 25s, addressing issues around risk-taking behaviour, including alcohol and substance misuse, all factors that can influence sexual behaviour."