TEENAGE pregnancy rates almost halved in South Lakeland over a 14-year period.

Rates of conception for under 18s have fallen right across the county, according to the Office of National Statistics, which released the latest figures today.

They reveal that in South Lakeland, in 1998, an average of 30.1 girls per 1,000 fell pregnant, compared to an average of 16.9 in 2012. In Eden the figures have dropped from 37.1 to 19.3.

“This long-term drop in underage conception rates across Cumbria is encouraging," said Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, Cumbria’s acting director of public health. “Over the last decade there has been an enormous amount of work done in Cumbria.

"There is no room for complacency though and we need to continue to encourage parents to talk to young people about sex and relationships.”

Although teenage pregnancy does not carry the same stigma as for previous generations, it is associated with a number of negative outcomes, such as lower birth weight and higher infant mortality.

The biggest drop across Cumbria's six districts has been seen in Barrow, where figures have fallen from 62 per 1,000 to 32.4 per 1,000.