The program was ditched after it emerged that teen pregnancies were in fact increasing rather than decreasing since the launch of the program. Some 2,371 teenagers who were thought to be at high risk of exclusion from school, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy were part of the program, which ran between 2004 and 2007. Some 16% of this group got pregnant as compared to 6% in other high-risk groups.
"We tried very hard to adjust for differences but there may be factors that we didn't take into account," said Meg Wiggins, lead researcher from the Institute of Education at the University of London."One of our theories is that YPDP pulled together vulnerable teenagers sometimes from across a wide area - being brought together in this way may have had an effect on their behaviour that you wouldn't see in groups more rooted in the local community."
She added that the time spent may also have been a factor. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said that teen pregnancies have been declining steadily for the last decade and that the government would continue to look for new ways of reaching out to young girls to prevent them from getting pregnant.
The details of the research as part of the program appear in the British Medical Journal.