The surge has overwhelmed the services of the Mother's Choice group Seven hundred single pregnant women received help from a counselling organisation last financial year - 50 per cent more than the previous year. The abrupt increase has prompted concern that unwanted pregnancy is a growing social problem.Most of the 700 women helped by Mother's Choice were aged between 15 and 25. The organisation, which provides shelter and counselling, said its hotline received 2,700 calls from youngsters and their relatives in the 2002-2003 financial year. The figure was a 70 per cent increase over from the 1,596 calls received the year before. Cynthia Fong, a supervisor of the organisation, said the trend was alarming and warned that schools and parents should improve efforts to educate children about sex. The youngest single mother the organisation has cared for was a 12-year-old girl who contacted them a few years ago. She finally gave her child up for adoption. One 18-year-old had had five abortions before seeking help from Mother's Choice last year, Ms Fong said. She said she believed the economic downturn had contributed to the problem. 'There is a trend of both parents being very busy at work. Some parents are on night shifts and are unable to spend time with their children. We have seen the trend all across the board, from low-income families to the well-off ones.' Although the organisation's figure of 700 was 50 per cent more than the 464 cases recorded the year before, it was not its highest. Mother's Choice, which was set up in 1987, recorded 774 cases in the 2000-2001 fiscal year. Ms Fong said about 60 per cent of young women who rang the hotline eventually resorted to abortion. Mother's Choice housed 114 young women last financial year, 30 per cent more than the 88 women the year before. The Department of Health recorded 11,437 abortions in both public and private hospitals in 2001. The data, which is the most recent available, does not have an age breakdown. But Ms Fong believes the official figures show only 'the tip of the iceberg', saying some women may be seeking illegal abortions in Shenzhen. Ms Fong appealed to the government to expand its funding for services in view of the surge in demand. She said Mother's Choice only had 10 full-time staff and was unable to handle the increasing number of unwanted pregnancies among teenagers. City University social studies lecturer Billy Ho Chi-on, who specialises in teenage sex education, said the problem of teenage pregnancy should set alarm bells ringing in Hong Kong. He accused schools and parents of being too conservative in educating children about sex. Mr Ho agreed that children were not as well supervised in households in which both parents held full-time jobs. 'They may not be able to spend enough time to take care of their children,' he said.