Young motherhood biggest killer of girls in developing world



Pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death among girls and young women aged 15 to 19 in the developing world, according to a new report released by the US-based non-profit organization, Save the Children.

The State of the World's Mothers 2004, released on 4 May, argues that providing girls with better educational opportunities and access to improved health care is key to preventing pregnancy in teenage women.

"For too many young girls around the world, motherhood is a disabling tragedy, or worse yet, a death sentence," said Mary Beth Powers, the group's reproductive health adviser.

Around 70 000 teenagers die annually because of complications from pregnancy and childbirth, according to Powers. The girls who do survive often struggle to overcome poor health, education and poverty, she added.

The prospects for the children of these young mothers are little better. According to the report, the offspring of teenaged mothers are 50% more likely to die than those born to older women. An estimated 1 million infants born to teenaged mothers die before their first birthday.

The report is available at:

World Health Organization Genebra - Genebra - Switzerland