Irish teenage birth rate drops by over 60%

Most teens in Ireland are aged between 17 and 19 the first time they have sex

New figures show there was a further decrease in the birth rate to teenagers in 2017.

The HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP) says the number of births to teenagers has fallen from 1,098 in 2016 to 1,041 in 2017.

The decrease is based on birth figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO)

There has also been a 66% decrease in the number of teenage births since 2001.

Births to teenagers have decreased from 3,087 in 2001 to just 1,041 in 2017

This equates to a decrease in the teenage birth rate from 20 per 1,000 of women aged 15-19 in population in Ireland in 2001 to 6.9 per 1,000 in 2017.

Helen Deely, is programme lead with the SHCPP.

She said: "There has been a significant shift in society in recent years.

"More teenagers than in the past are receiving relationships and sexuality education in schools and youth-work settings, and the majority of teenagers who are sexually active report 'always' using contraception.

"Several studies show that most teenagers in Ireland are aged between 17 and 19 the first time they have sex".

The use of contraception is increasing | File photo

She added: "While the reduction in today’s figures are welcome, there is more work to be done to ensure that young people have the information they need.

"We believe that parents’ role in sexuality education needs to be strengthened and more parents supported to provide relationships and sexuality education to their children throughout their lives.

"We know that parents can find talking to their children about relationships, sexuality and growing up challenging - but parents and guardians have a huge influence on their teenagers and it is important that teenagers know the facts before they decide to have sex for the first time."

Irish research finds that parents who discussed relationships and sexuality and growing up openly with their pre-teen children said they found it easier to communicate with them when they became teenagers.

The research also finds that those who said that it was easy to talk to their parents about sexual health were more likely to use contraception when having sex for the first time, compared with those who did not find it easy.