TEENAGE pregnancies are on the rise in Huntingdonshire. This goes against the national trend and the pattern in most of Cambridgeshire. According to figures released by Huntingdonshire Primary Care Trust, 236 girls aged 15-17 became pregnant between April 1997 and March 1999, rising to 274 in the two years to March 2003 - and increase of more than 16 per cent. Even when the rise in the number of 15-17-year-olds is taken into account, the proportion of teenage pregnancies rose by nearly 12 per cent. In more than half of the cases, the pregnancies were terminated by abortion, with the abortion rate also rising. In the rest of Cambridgeshire, the rate of teenage pregnancy fell everywhere except South Cambs, which showed a nine per cent rise. Huntingdonshire is home to nearly one in three of the 15-17-year-old girls in the county. Nationally, the rate fell by 7.6 per cent between the two periods. The highest number of teenage pregnancies was in Huntingdon North, which has the greatest relative deprivation in the district, the PCT says. It was followed by Huntingdon East and Eynesbury, which are also classed as relatively deprived. "Research suggests that the risk of unintentional pregnancy is 10 times higher among girls from manual unskilled backgrounds than those from professional backgrounds," the trust said. "In part, teenage pregnancy rates could be attributed to the relatively low access by young people in some areas to contraceptive services." Work to address this is in place, not only in Huntingdon, but also St Neots, St Ives and Ramsey. "An issue is the number of women who become pregnant as a positive life choice, because it can seem better than other options available." The report recommends improving access to contraception services, especially emergency hormonal contraception. Every pound spent on contraception saves the NHS \u00A311, according to the report. Every HIV infection prevented saves between \u00A3500,000 and \u00A31million over a lifetime. n Huntingdonshire District Council will be urged this afternoon (Wednesday) to back the retention of the PCT when the NHS is reorganised. Former leader, Councillor Derek Holley, will ask the council to back his call for keeping the trust in the face of determination by the Strategic Health Authority to combine it with other county trusts. Consultation closes next month.