Adolescent Pregnancies Are Not Only a Significant Medical Problem


Sinisa Franjic*

According to the World Health Organization, about 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 years and two million girls under the age of 15 give birth every year. Worldwide, one in five girls has given birth by the age of 18. In the poorest regions of the world, this figure rises to over one in three girls. Almost all adolescent births about 95% occur in low and middle income countries. Within countries, adolescent births are more likely to occur among poor, less educated and rural populations. The term “adolescent” is often used synonymously with “teenager”. In this sense “adolescent pregnancy” means pregnancy in a woman aged 10-19 years. In most statistics the age of the woman is defined as her age at the time the baby is born. Because a considerable difference exists between a 12 or 13 year old girl, and a young woman of say 19, authors sometimes distinguish between adolescents aged 15-19 years, and younger adolescents aged 10-14 years. Birth rates and pregnancy rates are counted per 1000 of a specific population. Statistics comparing the incidence between countries often give rates per 1000 adolescents aged 15-19 years. Sometimes statistical data on pregnancies and births among younger adolescents are also available. The pregnancy rate includes pregnancies ending in births and also pregnancies ending in abortion; the abortion rate is the number of (induced) abortions per 1000 women of a specific age. The abortion ratio is the percentage of pregnancies ending in (induced) abortion.