KARACHI: About 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 and some 1 million girls under 15 give birth every year—most in low- and middle-income countries. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the second cause of death for 15-19 year-old girls globally. Every year, some 3 million girls aged 15 to 19 undergo unsafe abortions. Babies born to adolescent mothers face a substantially higher risk of dying than those born to women aged 20 to 24.
According to WHO, there has been a marked, although uneven, decrease in the birth rates among adolescent girls since 1990, but some 11% of all births worldwide are still to girls aged 15 to 19 years old. The vast majority of these births (95%) occur in low- and middle-income countries.
The 2014 World Health Statistics indicate that the average global birth rate among 15 to 19 year olds is 49 per 1000 girls. Country rates range from 1 to 299 births per 1000 girls, with the highest rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Adolescent pregnancy remains a major contributor to maternal and child mortality, and to the cycle of ill-health and poverty.
For some adolescents, pregnancy and childbirth are planned and wanted, but for many they are not. Adolescent pregnancies are more likely in poor, uneducated and rural communities. In some countries, becoming pregnant outside marriage is not uncommon. By contrast, some girls may face social pressure to marry and, once married, to have children. More than 30% of girls in low- and middle-income countries marry before they are 18; around 14% before they are 15.
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