A Mother Too Soon
For all too many girls around the world, pregnancy happens when they are themselves still children. However the repercussions of early motherhood can have a disastrous impact on a young woman's life. Women who give birth between the ages of 15-19 are twice as likely to die from pregnancy and birth related causes than women in their 20s, and for girls aged under 15 the risk is five times higher that women in their 20s.
Babies under one with adolescent mothers are 50% more likely to die than those with mothers in their 20s, and the younger the mother, the higher the risk.
Potential disadvantages are not just limited to health. When girls start having babies in their early teens, they miss out on school, which means they also miss opportunities to escape poverty.
As a result of unprotected sex, teenage girls are also at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. Young girls may feel unable to ask to use condoms – and in many cases they may be forced into sex. In both Malawi and Ghana around a third of girls reported that they were "not willing at all" during their first sexual experience.
Mothers under 16
In many countries girls are often married and bear their first child before the age of 16. This is particularly prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, but also in parts of Asia and Latin America. These very young pregnancies, which carry the greatest risks for both mother and baby, are concentrated in those countries where services are poorest.