The Health of Adolescents
Adolescence is the phase of life between childhood and adulthood, from ages 10 to 19. It is a unique stage of human development and an important time for laying the foundations of good health.
Adolescents experience rapid physical, cognitive and psychosocial growth. This affects how they feel, think, make decisions, and interact with the world around them.
To grow and develop in good health, adolescents need information, including age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education; opportunities to develop life skills; health services that are acceptable, equitable, appropriate and effective; and safe and supportive environments.
They also need opportunities to meaningfully participate in the design and delivery of interventions to improve and maintain their health. Expanding such opportunities is key to responding to adolescents’ specific needs and rights.
Adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health issues:
Approximately 12 million girls aged 15–19 years and at least 777,000 girls under 15 years give birth each year in developing regions
At least 10 million unintended pregnancies occur each year among adolescent girls aged 15–19 years in the developing world
Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for 15–19-year-old girls globally
Of the estimated 5.6 million abortions that occur each year among adolescent girls aged 15–19 years, 3.9 million are unsafe, contributing to maternal mortality, morbidity and lasting health problems
Adolescent mothers (ages 10–19 years) face higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis, and systemic infections than women aged 20 to 24 years, and babies of adolescent mothers face higher risks of low birth weight, preterm delivery and severe neonatal conditions
The estimated global adolescent-specific fertility rate has declined by 11.6% over the past 20 years
There are, however, big differences in rates across the regions. The adolescent fertility rate in East Asia, for example, is 7.1 whereas the corresponding rate in Central Africa is 129.5
While the estimated global adolescent fertility rate has declined, the actual number of child births to adolescents has not, due to the large -and in some parts of the world, growing -population of young women in the 15–19 age group
The largest number of births occur in Eastern Asia (95,153) and Western Africa (70,423