Teen pregnancies and 12,000 A&E visits: New Public Health England report reveals Havering’s child health worries

Levels of teen pregnancy in Havering are above the national average. Photo: PA

Levels of teen pregnancy in Havering are above the national average. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Levels of teen pregnancy, family homelessness and young children attending A&E in Havering are worse than the national average according to a new report from Public Health England.

Havering’s Child Health Profile 2019 reveals that although “overall, the health and wellbeing of children in Havering is better than England”, there are still several areas the borough needs to focus on providing more support for younger people.

New statistics show 106 girls under the age of 18 conceived in 2016 - around 24 girls per 1,000 living in the borough.

The average for London is around 17 per 1,000 girls, while the national average across England is 19 per 1,000 girls.

And Havering’s new mums are much less likely to breastfeed - only 59.7pc of mothers do it, despite the fact it is recommended by healthcare bosses – but also less likely to smoke while pregnant, with just 7.2pc of mums-to-be not giving up the habit.

The report also revealed that infant mortality rates across the borough are better than the English average, but tragically six infants still died before turning one.

According to Public Health England, one-in-10 Havering children (10.3pc) entering the school system in Reception classes are obese, with this rising to one-in-five (22.8pc) by the time they leave primary school in Year 6.

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In 2017/18, there were also 11,942 A&E attendances by children aged four years or younger, which when broken down into a percentage is more than usual, but the number of young people being admitted for instances of self-harm in the borough is bucking the national trend and decreasing.

Overall, levels of child poverty in the borough are better than elsewhere in the country, with just 16.5pc of children under 16 years old living in poverty, but the rate of family homelessness is worse.

Councillor Jason Frost, Havering’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Care Services, pointed out that the borough performs better than or similar to the rest of England in 27 of the 32 measures reported in Public Health England’s child profile.

He added: “But we are always trying to do better – particularly with regard to issues such as breastfeeding and teenage pregnancy rates.

“We’re working closely with the NHS and other voluntary sector partners to promote breastfeeding and last year launched a scheme to encourage public places to register as a ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ venue to make it easier for mums to find a place to feed their child.

“Breastfeeding protects infants from infection and other illnesses and reduces the risk of some cancers to mothers as well as helping the mental health of both mother and baby.

“We are also aware that teenage pregnancy rates increased last year and we’re undertaking a review with our health partners, early help groups and children’s services and schools to check what more can be done to improve access to contraception and ensure all young people get high-quality relationships and sex education.

“In the meantime, we’re making it easier to access the most effective forms of contraception from GP surgeries, and reviewing the C-card scheme which provides free condoms for under 25s.”