Teen pregnancies halved, abortion numbers down

Teen pregnancies

Teen pregnancies in New Zealand are on the decline at present. Numbers giving birth have more than halved in the past decade.

The past ten years has also seen a downward trend in abortions, according to the latest Abortion Services Aotearoa New Zealand annual report .

The stats

Newly released figures from Stats NZ on Tuesday show that in 2022 there were 1,719​ births registered to 13 to 19 year-olds. They accounted for about one in every 34​ births that year.

In 2012, there were 3,786​ births registered to teenage mothers: roughly one in 16​ births.

These are very different numbers from those recorded back in 1972.

That was the year teenage births in New Zealand peaked. Statistics report 9,150​ teenage women gave birth, accounting for about one in every seven​ births.

Two years later, in 1974, the Auckland Medical Aid Centre Abortion Clinic opened.​

Teenage births “generally dropped” post-1972 – save for a “small peak” in 2008​. That year, one in every 12​ births (5,223​ births) was registered to under-20 year old mothers.

Stats NZ estimates and projections manager Michael MacAskill​ says teen births had generally decreased since then.

Why the decrease?

For every 1,000 women in New Zealand aged 15-19, there were 11​ births in 2022 – down from 25​ in 2012, a decrease of 55 percent.

Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond​ says the drop in teenage births mirrored global trends. It can be attributed in part to an increase in education and access to contraceptives.

It is very clear people need multiple contraceptive options, she says.

Increasing the range and choice in Aotearoa seemed to have made a difference, she notes. Today there are more reliable, readily accessible forms of contraception which have a lower failure rate than other forms.

However, there are still barriers, including cost, limited awareness of the range of contraceptives and health literacy of patients and practitioners.

There will always be unplanned pregnancies because no-one and nothing is perfect, she says. At the same time though, “this shows things have changed – and hopefully it continues”.

Improved education also made a difference, with schools offering a range of relationship and sexuality programmes in their curricula, Edmond says.

“But we also know this is patchy. The quality and amount [of such education] is patchy as well.”

There are “lots of great teenage parents out there” and many young people did “an awesome job”.

At the name time, pregnancy at a young age could have long-term impacts on people’s lives, so the downturn was “good to see”, she adds.


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News category: New Zealand.

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