Adolescent pregnancy is dangerous – and sometimes fatal. In developing countries it is the leading cause of death for adolescent girls, affecting--in general--the poorest girls in the poorest countries. Adolescent pregnancy is dangerous for babies too—those born to teen mothers are 50% more likely to die in their first month of life than those born to women in their 20s.
Children’s chances of survival have improved dramatically in the last two decades – 12,000 fewer children died every day in 2010 than in 1990*. However, to make further progress towards the fourth Millennium Development Goal—reducing the under-five mortality rate by two thirds--we must reduce adolescent pregnancy, which all too often results in the deaths of two children – one a newborn infant, the other an adolescent girl. Girls’ need for family planning is an urgent priority that needs international political action at the highest level.
Although adolescent fertility rates are falling on a global level, approximately 18 million girls under the age of 20 give birth each year. Two million of these girls are under the age of 15. While numerically speaking most teenage births take place in south Asia, the countries with the highest adolescent fertility rates are clustered in sub-Saharan Africa.