Teenage Pregnancy Deaths Amount to a Global Scandal

With approximately 70,000 teenagers dying each year as a result of teenage pregnancy, the organization Save the Children is calling it a “global scandal” It is calling for people across the entire world to find a better way to educate teenagers about family planning and prevent such tragedies from continuing. In Africa and other developing nations, teenage pregnancy is the number one killer among adolescent girls, beating out disease, accidents, and violence.


Teenage Pregnancy Statistics Worldwide

  • Worldwide, approximately 1 out of every 5 girls become pregnant before the age of 19.
  • 99% of childbirth-related deaths occur in developing nations. This includes teenage pregnancy. The main reason is a lack of quality prenatal health care.
  • Overall, about 10% of all births in the world are to teenage mothers.
  • Girls age 14 and younger are at the highest risk for death.
  • Teenage mothers in developing nations are 50% more likely to die from complications than women older than age 20.
  • Babies of teenage mothers are twice as likely to die during childbirth as those who are born to older mothers.

Preventing teenage pregnancy is the key to preventing deaths

Preventing deaths from teenage pregnancy requires a multifaceted approach, especially in developing nations. Unlike developed countries such as the United States and Canada, education and quality health care often take a back seat to providing basic human needs- such as clean water, food, and shelter. Countries that are struggling to feed their citizens do not have the resources to launch a campaign to prevent young girls from becoming pregnant.

Another problem that many young women face in developing nations is a lack of equality. In some countries, women are still viewed as property and their needs mean very little to the patriarchal society. Human trafficking is a major problem in developing nations, with young girls being kidnapped and sold to the highest bidder. Countries that have little regard for women’s rights are not likely to launch a campaign to prevent teenage pregnancy.

How you can help

Everyone can help in the fight to end the high rates of teenage pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths among young girls. If your talents, education, and resources allow, consider volunteering for an organization that spends time teaching these young girls about family planning. Donating to such organizations can also help. If you can’t afford to volunteer or donate, use your own voice and social networks to speak out for girls who cannot speak for themselves. Save the Children’s message raises a very good point: it is up to everyone in the world to work together to prevent teenage pregnancy and the deaths related to it.


Photo Credit: Creative Commons

6 thoughts on “Teenage Pregnancy Deaths Amount to a Global Scandal”

  1. Of course teenagers are more likely to die during pregnacy and childbitth.
    Their bodies aren’t done developing.

    But let’s look at the problems you list:

    Lack of access to clean water, enough food and to healthcare.
    Women and girls viewed as property.
    Human trafficing.

    And how can we help?
    Teach the girls family planning.
    That’s a joke, right?

    If we educate these girls on how to prevent pregnancy which of the above problems will that address?!?

    They’ll suddenly get safe drinking water? Food?

    Will they now gain access to the family planning techniques you’re going to teach them?
    What birth control method can they access?
    The rhythm method???

    Will the sex ed class cover ‘How to explain to your dad that he doesn’t own you’?
    ‘Human Trafficing Empowerment and You – Demand Condoms’???

  2. While the overall point of the article is well-taken, there are some basic anthropological things being missed here. First, it’s historically pretty normal for women to be – well, WOMEN – at 15, 16, and marrying and bearing children. This would still be the case in many, many nations around the world, where we have not decided to prolong childhood and give up on actually making our children GROW UP. So some of these pregnancy statistics should really not be shocking.

    But then, in places without good nutrition available (where these ages are typical), it is a logical consequence that more of the pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths are to younger women. If they die when they’re younger, they obviously don’t become part of the “older women” statistics. I’m not saying this makes the deaths okay – but I am saying that I’m not sure age has as much to do with it as is being implied here (except in the VERY youngest age group, which probably does make a difference). The same general things that are threats to the health of pregnant women at ALL ages are probably the bigger factors, and the stats are skewed toward the younger end purely because those who die in their teens are never able to be added to the 20’s-and-up data.

  3. I will admit that I never thought of it on a global level. I need to learn more about the resources that we have around here to support teen moms.

  4. wow, I had no idea that simply being a teenager increased the risks in pregnancy. It’s a sad issue that is plaguing so many countries. I don’t know of many resources in our area that deal with teen pregnancies. They do try to teach to refrain from sexual intimacy until older and they try to educate them about what it’s like to be a teen mom and Dad with required high school classes. But i don’t think they educate them on the dangers that pregnancy has on the mom’s health.

  5. My community has such a high teen pregnancy rate. It’s become an epidemic, really. There are some great organizations like AEC that teach abstinence and other healthy lifestyle choices. They really do wonderful work.

  6. Thank you for bringing to light this global problem. Often we focus on issues in our neighborhood. A worldwide crisis has an impact at home. Giving a voice to those who can’t is way to help our world.

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