Teenage pregnancy is a problem that plagues both developed and developing countries.
The rate of teen pregnancy in the United States has decreased by 25% from 2007 to 2011, but they still have the highest rate among developed countries. Among these nations, The US also has the highest rates of teenage abortions and sexually transmitted diseases. It was noted that in half of the estimated 400,000 annual teen pregnancies, no method of birth control was used. The rate of these pregnancies is higher in families with lower education and income. Disparities in race and ethnicity is noted, as the rate of teen pregnancy in Hispanic teens and non-Hispanic blacks were two times higher than in non-Hispanic white teens.
The burden of teen pregnancy is much higher in developing nations, which is estimated at 7.3 million per year as of 2013. Of these, 2 million were teenagers below 14 years of age. In third world nations, the causes of teen pregnancy include poverty, customs and traditions, and lack of education.
Early pregnancy poses a risk both to the mother and to the newborn. In developing nations, up to 70,000 adolescents die of pregnancy and childbirth complications per year. Compared to babies born to mothers above 20 years of age, babies born to teenagers have 50% higher death rates. They are also more likely to have low birth weights, which makes them prone to long term health risks. The incidence of abortion, HIV and AIDS also rise in proportion to the rate of teen pregnancies.
Teenage pregnancy also has a significant economic impact both to developed and developing nations. Because these teen mothers cannot join the workforce, estimated annual losses to the economy are significant. In Kenya, Brazil and India, the figures are at $ 3.4B, $3.5B and $7.7B respectively. In the US, teenage pregnancy costs $11B of taxpayers’ money annually. Only half of these adolescents are able to complete high school education by 22 years old.
1) WHO: Adolescent pregnancy. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs364/en/
2) WHO http://www.who.int/maternalchildadolescent/topics/maternal/adolescent_pregnancy/en/
3) US Department of Health and Human Services http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs364/en/
4) US Center for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsteenpregnancy/