WITH one of Scotland's highest teenage pregnancy rates, Greater Glasgow is set to receive a positive boost for young sexual health.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Glasgow City Council are jointly creating the new post of Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinator in a bid to take a fresh look at reducing teenage parenthood and the exclusion associated with it.
Studies have revealed that one in 10 such mothers are less than 16-years-old, and that first-time mums in Glasgow's affluent areas are older than grandmothers in the city's poorest communities.
Catriona Renfrew, Director of Planning and Community for NHS Greater Glasgow, said: "Teenage pregnancy is undoubtedly a major issue that can have life-long negative effects on a mother and child. For the mother alone there are significant physical health risks as well as mental problems fuelled by isolation and loss of opportunity.
"Being deprived of learning and employment can result in nutritional problems, poor housing and reliance on welfare, low educational attainment and life-long poverty. Young Glasgow people deserve better."
Catriona went on to explain that Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinator posts have already been created across England. Immediate results have shown youth pregnancy rates decreasing, thanks to increased knowledge and control of sexual relations and improved sexual health services for young people.
The new Glasgow postholder's aims will include improving local access to family planning and sexual health services for young people and a coherent sexual health education programme.
He or she will investigate the needs of young parents and develop an action plan to address them. This will involve negotiating with Glasgow's service providers over service changes for teenagers that enhance their family planning abilities.
A key aim will be to improve teenage parents' opportunities in education and employment and consequently boost their health.
Catriona added: "It will also be crucial to target the most vulnerable young people (such as those leaving care accommodation) in order to shape a more positive future for them."
So what does the future ideally hold for Glasgow teens as the new move unfolds?
Catriona explained: "In short, we have an ambitious but realistic vision of reducing unwanted teenage pregnancies, particularly in 13-15-year-olds.
"We aim for an 20% increase in the proportion of teenage mums in education until the age of 17, and consequently a 20% reduction in teenage parents who are fully dependent on benefits.
"Another crucial ambition is to reduce the number of youths who have children on the Social Work ‘At Risk' register and increase the aspirations of those most likely to experience underage pregnancy.
"We want to stamp out the inequalities in health and opportunity for young Glasgow parents and their children, and so shape brighter futures for them."
For further information, contact:
Caroline Jarvie on 0141 201 4447
NOTES TO EDITORS:
· The decision to create the new post stemmed from the Shared Interests Group and was developed by NHS Greater Glasgow, Glasgow City Council Social Work and Education, Healthy Cities Partnership and the Sexual Health Planning and Implementation Group.
· The death rate for the babies of teenage mothers is 60 per cent higher than for babies of older parents. The infants often have low birth weights and suffer childhood poverty.
· There is no evidence in UK, Europe or further afield to suggest that providing young people with sexual health services encourages them to become sexually active.
· Britain has a history of early parenthood and research shows even the most affluent areas in the UK have teenage birth rates that are higher than European figures. Teen pregnancy is generally commonplace in cities' poorest communities and amongst vulnerable young people.