HSE welcomes decline in births to teenagers Since 2001

The HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme has welcomed the birth figures released today (Tuesday, 31st May 2016) by the Central Statistics Office, showing a further decline in the number of births to teenagers, from 1,253 in 2014 to 1,187 in 2015.

Since the establishment of the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (formerly the Crisis Pregnancy Agency) in 2001, the total number of births to teenagers has decreased from 3,087 in 2001 to 1,187 in 2015, a decline of 62% over 14 years. This equates to a decrease in the teenage birth rate from 20 per 1000 of women aged 15-19 in population in Ireland in 2001 to 8.7 per 1000 of women aged 15-19 in population in 2015.

Over the same time period, the number of teenagers (females under 20 years of age) giving Irish addresses in UK abortion clinics has also substantially declined,  from 944 in 2001 to 263 in 2015, a 72% decline over 14 years.  

Welcoming today’s figures, Orla McGowan, Education Officer, HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme said: “The Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Programme in schools and in youth centres has had a significant contribution   to the figures released today. The RSE Programme is supported by the Department of Education, the Department of Health and the HSE through the Healthy Ireland Framework. 

“Parents and guardians also have a huge influence on their teenagers and while some teenagers might try to shut down a conversation about relationships and sex, it is important that they know the facts before they decide to have sex for the first time.  We have developed a website www.B4uDecide.ie for teenagers and parents, with videos, quizzes, polls and information about healthy relationships.    We also have packs for teachers that are freely available online or can be ordered on www.healthpromotion.ie

The Health Behaviour of School Aged Children Survey 2014, a nationally representative survey, found that 27% of 15-17 year olds report having had sex, unchanged since 2010.  Of those, 73% reported that they used condoms and 33% reported that they used the oral contraceptive pill at last intercourse. 

Ms McGowan commented: “These are high levels of contraceptive use among teenagers, though it should be noted that more than one quarter did not use condoms and may be putting themselves at risk of getting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STIs). Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) records show that in 2015, there were 915 cases of teenagers (15-19) diagnosed with either Chlamydia (633 cases) Gonorrhoea  (149 cases) and Genital Herpes (133 cases). It is important that we get the message across to young people who are sexually active that condoms are very effective at preventing STIs and unplanned pregnancy.”        

The HSE has developed a number of DVD’s and booklets to help parents communicate with their children about relationships and sex at different ages. These resources are available free of charge from www.healthpromotion.ie.

 The RSE Programme is supported by the Department of Education, the Department of Health and HSE Health and Wellbeing through the National Sexual Health Strategy and the Healthy Ireland Framework. 

Last updated on: 31 / 05 / 2016