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Sharp fall in teen pregnancies

The number of pregnancies among under 18 year-olds has fallen sharply in Finland. Since 2005, teen pregnancies have declined by close to 40%.

Vastasyntynyt vauva.
Image: Johanna Kasvinen / Yle

Pregnancies among under 20 year-olds have shown a steady decline since the 1970s, with an especially steep fall in numbers since the start of the 2000s. There was a brief upsurge in teen pregnancies following the economic recession of the 1990s after budget tightening cut back sex education classes and school health services.

The situation has been righted again, however, says Mika Gissler, a research professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

"Nowadays, all students get sex education in the schools and health studies are a mandatory subject. School healthcare services have also developed further. This is all well reflected in our statistics," explains Professor Gissler.

Relationship issues

Only around 1000 under-age girls become pregnant in Finland annually. Approximately 80% have abortions.

There is no overall, coordinated support system specifically aimed at this age group. However, maternity clinics and various organizations do arrange support groups for young mothers.

Minna Oulasmaa, who is the coordinator of family counselling services for the Family Federation of Finland, says she would like to see young parents have the opportunity to get more help in managing relationships. Teenage mothers are often single mothers. More than half of teenage mothers do not live with the father of their child.

"Relationships become quite a challenge when two young people have a baby. When parents are young, it is important that support is available from their own parents," says Oulasmaa.

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