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Teen pregnancy project abandoned

8th July 2009

A project to cut the number of pregnancies among young women deemed to be at risk has been abandoned after research showed it was failing to reduce conceptions.

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The Young People’s Development Programme (YPDP) covered 27 regions of England to offer support and advice to disadvantaged teenagers.

But research in the British Medical Journal showed that the £5.9m project, which ran between 2004 and 2007, was not working.

Teenagers taking part were actually more likely to fall pregnant than those in comparable groups. Almost 2,400 girls took part and 16% became pregnant, compared to 6% in similar groups not in the YPDP project.

The government had hoped to halve teenage pregnancy rates by next year but latest figures show they are rising.

The YPDP group had sex earlier and were less likely to have used contraception when they had sex.

Lead researcher Meg Wiggins from the University of London said: "One of our theories is that YPDP pulled together vulnerable teenagers sometimes from across a wide area - being brought together in this way may have had an effect on their behaviour that you wouldn't see in groups more rooted in the local community.

"There is also the issue of time spent - YPDP involved a few hours a week in addition to other commitments, whereas some of the other groups were much more intense."

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "This pilot was based on a successful American programme. It didn't appear to reduce teenage pregnancy so we will not be taking it any further."

 

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