About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides an annual update on teenage pregnancy statistics in Scotland. This is based on age at conception and presented by year of conception and the most recent information is for the calendar year ending 31 December 2020. The delay in reporting is due to the amount of time required for a conception to result in a birth or termination, and for the relevant documentation to be recorded and validated.

Main points

For women aged under 20 years:

  • The teenage pregnancy rate in Scotland is at its lowest level since reporting began as rates fell for a thirteenth consecutive year to 23.9 per 1,000 women in 2020 (equivalent to 3,300 teenage pregnancies).
Image caption Teenage pregnancy by age group at conception, 1994-2020
  • Teenage pregnancy rates in Scotland vary by region. In 2020 NHS Highland recorded the lowest overall rate amongst the mainland NHS Boards while NHS Fife recorded the highest (18.3 and 28.9 per 1,000 women respectively).
  • The proportion of teenage pregnancies that result in termination rather than delivery has increased gradually over time and is now the slightly more common of the two outcomes.
  • While teenage pregnancy rates have reduced across all levels of deprivation in the last decade, they have fallen more rapidly in the most deprived areas which has narrowed the absolute gap between the most and least deprived areas.
  • In 2020, however, those living in the areas of highest deprivation still had teenage pregnancy rates five times higher than those in the least deprived (44.9 compared to 9 per 1,000 women).
  • Teenage women from the most deprived areas are more likely to deliver than to terminate their pregnancy. In contrast, those from the least deprived areas are more likely to terminate than to deliver.

Background

The source data are (i) registrations of live and stillbirths from the National Records of Scotland, with multiple births counted as one event, and (ii) the number of legal abortions notified to the Chief Medical Officer (Scotland) in accordance with the Abortion (Scotland) Regulations 1991. Many teenage women experience unintended or unwanted pregnancies, although for some this may be a planned, positive life choice. Reducing unintended teenage pregnancy remains a priority for the Scottish Government.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be July 2023.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.maternitystats@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 15 July 2022
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