Current status + progress
The highest rates of early childbearing are found in sub-Saharan African countries
Adolescence is a vulnerable phase in human development as it represents a transition from childhood to physical and psychological maturity. During this period, adolescents learn and develop knowledge and skills to deal with critical aspects of their health and development while their bodies mature. Adolescent girls, especially younger girls, are particularly vulnerable because they face the risks of premature pregnancy and childbirth. Indeed, in the least developed countries, over one in 4 women (27 per cent) aged 20–24 years have had a live birth before age 18. Similar proportions are observed in sub-Saharan Africa. This represents about 12 million women in least developed countries who delivered during their adolescent age. The highest proportions of early childbearing are found in sub-Saharan Africa, where birth rates among adolescents reach over 200 births per 1000 girls age 15–19, compared to lower rates in other regions (figure 1). Countries such as Central African Republic, Niger, Chad, Angola and Mali top the list of countries with highest adolescent birth rate (above 178). In the 2010–2015 period, over 45 per cent of women 20–24 reported having given birth for the first time by age 18.