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Early childbearing can have severe consequences for adolescent girls
Globally in 2021, an estimated 14 per cent of adolescent girls and young women give birth before age 18. Early childbearing, or pregnancy and delivery during adolescence, can derail girls’ otherwise healthy development into adulthood and have negative impacts on their education, livelihoods and health. Many girls who are pregnant are pressured or forced to drop out of school, which can impact their educational and employment prospects and opportunities. Early pregnancy and childbearing can also have social consequences for girls, including reduced status in the home and community, stigmatization, rejection and violence by family members, peers and partners, and early and forced marriage.
Adolescent girls, especially those in early adolescence, are particularly vulnerable to the health consequences of pregnancy and delivery as their bodies may not be physically ready. Obstetric fistula, eclampsia, puerperal endometritis and systemic infections are just some of the serious conditions that they may face in the short- and long-term. Globally, maternal conditions are among the top causes of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and death among girls aged 15-19.