TEENAGE girls from the poorest areas in Lothian are more than twice as likely to become pregnant as wealthier peers.
The news has prompted calls for action to tackle the cycle of deprivation faced by young mothers.
The overall pregnancy rate among Lothian teens has plummeted by over 40 per cent in the last decade but the official figures reveal a stark gulf between rich and poor.
In 2014, there were more than 200 teen pregnancies in the poorest parts of Lothian, compared to just 95 in the most affluent households.
On average, an underage girl became pregnant every week, rising to nearly one per day among under-18s.
Better sex education and access to treatment have been credited with the overall improvement but critics said more action was needed to tackle the issue.
Natika H Halil, chief executive of sexual health charity FPA, said: “While not all teenage pregnancies are unwanted or unplanned, teenagers who become parents are more likely to have poorer health, education, social and economic outcomes, so it is vital we support young people to make decisions about their lives which are best for them.”
The figures also show Lothian had Scotland’s highest abortion rate, at 16.4 per 1000 people.
Labour inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon called for action to improve equality of access to contraception and family planning services. She added: “Teenage mothers are more likely to suffer postnatal depression and higher rates of teenage pregnancy can be linked to child poverty rates.”
Dona Milne, NHS Lothian deputy public health director, said: “These statistics show our work to improve sex and relationships education, and provide accessible young people’s services across Edinburgh and Lothian, is having an impact – which is good news.
“However, there remains a strong link between deprivation and teenage parenthood and although good sex and relationships education and young people’s services are important, our focus also needs to be on earlier interventions, including increasing school attendance, educational attainment, increasing aspirations and addressing wider inequalities.”