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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.