A government drive to lower the rate of teenage pregnancies has backfired, actually increasing the number of school-age mothers in England, a study confirms today.
The Young People’s Development Programme (YPDP) was extended to 27 parts of England between 2004 and 2007 after reports from the United States suggested that it could reduce unplanned pregnancies and alcohol and cannabis misuse among teenagers. It cost £5.9 million.
Independent research published in the British Medical Journal found that young girls who attended were “significantly” more likely to become pregnant than those in a comparison group.
A total of 16 per cent of the YPDP group became pregnant, compared with 6 per cent in the other group, a youth programme not receiving YPDP funds. This was despite those in the YPDP group having education about sex and drugs and being no more sexually active than the other group.
The girls were given intensive health education and free condoms in the hope that this would enable them to avoid unprotected sex.