News / Health

UN: For Millions of Adolescents, Pregnancy Can Be Dangerous

FILE - Aey, a 20-year old mother of three, holds her son at their home in a Bangkok's slum October 7, 2012.
FILE - Aey, a 20-year old mother of three, holds her son at their home in a Bangkok's slum October 7, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
— A new report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) finds millions of adolescent girls suffer serious long-term health and social consequences from pregnancy.  Globally, the U.N. agency estimates 7.3 million girls under 18-years-old give birth, including two million girls younger than 14.

Giving birth to a baby should be a happy moment in the life of a woman.  But, for millions of adolescents around the world, early pregnancy and childbirth results in serious health problems, social exclusion and even death.

In developing countries, 20,000 girls under 18 give birth every day, the report says.  It estimates some 70,000 adolescents in developing countries die each year from complications during pregnancy and childbirth.  Among those who survive, many will develop an obstetric fistula. This is a hole in the birth canal, which leaves the girl leaking urine constantly.  

x
The director of the UNFPA office in Geneva, Alanna Armitage, says adolescent girls are at increased risk of child marriage and sexual coercion.  Maternal death among girls under the age of 15 from low- and middle-income countries is twice that of older females," says Armitage.

“Our report shows that nine out of 10 pregnancies to girls under 18 take place within a marriage. And, as you may know, every day, 39,000 girls are married in violation of their basic human rights.  One in nine is married before the age of 15 and this, of course, will continue as long as families, communities and governments tolerate child marriage," she said.

The report highlights the economic impact of adolescent pregnancy.  It notes the lifetime opportunity costs related to adolescent pregnancy range from one percent of annual GDP in China to 30 percent of annual GDP in Uganda.

To drive this point home, the report notes $3.4 billion could have been added to the Kenyan economy had the more than 200,000 adolescent mothers in the country been employed rather than pregnant.

The report finds in every region of the world, impoverished, poorly educated rural girls are more likely to become pregnant than those who live in richer, more urban areas.  UNFPA Senior Maternal Health Advisor Luc de Bernis says the highest rates of adolescent maternal mortality are found in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

He says the problem is marginally greater in the Francophone than the English-speaking African countries.  

“Africa is not homogeneous and we have many differences, but the fact is young girls are not protected in the majority of these countries -- not in the Francophone for sure...and not in the English speaking world," said Bernis. "In Kenya, Uganda, you have a rate of abortion which is absolutely enormous and it explains a big part of the maternal mortality.  A big number of these abortions occur among very young girls.”  

x
The report says adolescent pregnancy is a much bigger challenge in the developing world than in developed countries.  But it finds that adolescent pregnancy is still a significant issue in the richer nations. 

It says blaming a young girl for getting pregnant is counter-productive.  Instead of changing the girl’s behavior, the report says, society should change its attitudes and actions.

Among the recommendations for reducing adolescent pregnancy with its related risks, the report suggests keeping girls in school, stopping child marriage, and providing adolescents with access to sexual and reproductive health, including contraception.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid