Last updated at 22:20 BST, Thursday, 28 June 2012

Pregnancy the 'biggest killer' for teenage girls


28 June 2012

Pregnancy is the biggest killer of teenage girls worldwide. A new report by Save the Children says that one million teenage girls die or suffer serious injury, infection or disease due to having a baby. The charity says the lack of access to contraception is at the root of the problem.


Emily Buchanan

A pregnant girl

In many countries girls become pregnant too young.


Click to hear the report


In many countries it's normal for girls to be married off young. They often quickly become pregnant but their bodies are not developed enough to give birth. In one clinic in a poor region of northern Liberia, a third of all babies are born to girls between 15 and 19. Some are as young as 13.

A Save the Children project manager there, George Kijana, says these young mothers are prone to a lot of medical complications. [For example] a fistula causes a lot of pain and incontinence, and girls are frequently then ostracised from their families. Babies too are more at risk, far more likely to die if their mother's under 18.

For years contraceptive programmes have struggled for funding and support as the religious right in the US has pressed Washington to oppose them. But world leaders will be congregating in London next month for a family planning summit hosted by the British government and the Gates Foundation. They will be urging action to make contraception not just more available to girls, but to empower them to use it by helping their families understand the health benefits of later pregnancies.

Charities point out that there could be huge cost benefits - with $1 spent on family planning saving at least $4 on treating the complications from unintended pregnancies.


Click to hear the vocabulary



place where people are given medical treatment or

prone to

likely to / liable to


involuntary urination or defecation




strived to achieve or attain something in the face of resistance


put pressure on


coming together


conference / meeting

to empower

to enable



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