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Teenagers urged to stay safe during festive season

15 December 2010

Sexual health experts in North Yorkshire and York are this week launching a campaign to encourage the region's under 18 population to stay safe during the Christmas and New Year party season.

National figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show a staggering 20 percent increase in conception rates during December and January when compared to February - which has the lowest rates of conception (see notes to editors).

Carly Walker, Teenage Pregnancy Coordinator for North Yorkshire County Council, said: "Year on year we see an increase in the number of under 18s getting pregnant during the festive season so it's really important they are reminded of risks of having unprotected sex.

"It's important to point out that not all young people are sexually active. Our evidence actually shows that around 25% of young people under the age of 16 have had sex, and they are the ones we are hoping to target with this campaign."

A number of studies carried out in the UK and elsewhere suggest that increased alcohol intake could well be to blame for the spike in teenage conceptions.

Katie Needham, Consultant in Public Health for NHS North Yorkshire and York, said: "Studies do show a clear link between alcohol consumption and teenage pregnancy rates.

"Evidence suggests that people under the influence of alcohol are less likely to use contraception, mainly because they lose their inhibitions and their judgement over the situation is impaired. Condoms are the best protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as Chlamydia, genital warts, HIV and unplanned pregnancies.

"When it comes to sex, you are the person in control of what does or doesn't happen. You should never feel under pressure to go further than you're happy with."

If you think you have put yourself at risk of becoming pregnant or getting an STI you should contact NHS Direct who will be able to give you details of services available over the festive season. NHS Direct can be contacted free on 08 45 46 47. This service is confidential and available 24/7.

For more information about sexual health, contraception and for details of sexual health clinics in North Yorkshire and York, visit

15 December 2010

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