Adolescent pregnancy

Adolescent pregnancy

In impoverished parts of the world poorly educated and mostly rural girls are likely to get pregnant at a young age. Those who lack opportunities in life and have no access to reproductive health care such as contraceptive information are also prone to adolescent pregnancy.  Fifty-nine per cent of the adolescent pregnancies occur within developing countries and today 2.7 million girls give birth before the age of 15[1].

The most direct danger of adolescent pregnancy is the risk of maternal death. The change that an adolescent dies during the pregnancy of right after giving birth is twice as high as that of an older female. Today more than 70.000 adolescents in developing countries die of causes related to pregnancy and giving birth[2]. Besides the health risk for the mother the infant is by no means granted from a flying start. Around 1 million babies born to adolescent mothers to not make it to their first birthday and those who do survive have more change of low birth weight.

Because adolescents who become pregnant tend to be from lower-income households they have a higher change of nutritional anaemia which increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and maternal deaths[3]. Another increasing risk is the often lacking access to emergency obstetric care from skilled health workers. Because of her physical immaturity health problems during pregnancy are more likely if a girl get pregnant within the first two years after the first menarche and/or when her pelvis and birth canal are still growing[4].
Although fistula can occur to women at any reproductive age, studies in Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger and Nigeria show that about one in three women living with obstetric fistula reported developing it as an adolescent” (UNFPA, 2013, p. 19).   

The UNFPA recently launged a new report on adolescent pregnancy. To read the whole document click here >>
[1] UNFPA. (2013). Motherhood in Childhood: Facing  the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy. Obtained on October 31, 2013, from:

[2] UNICEF. (2008). Maternal and Newborn Health. State of the World’s Children. New York: UNICEF 

[3] Pathfinder International. (2011). Advancing Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in India. New Delhi: Pathfinder International.
[4] World Health Organization. (2004). Issues in Adolescent Health and Development. WHO Discussion Papers on Adolescence.Geneva: WHO.