World / Europe

About 23m adolescents at risk of unintended pregnancy

By Yang Wanli in Copenhagen, Denmark ( Updated: 2016-05-18 20:15

About 23 million adolescents in developing countries are at risk of unwanted pregnancy because they are not using modern contraceptives, according to a report released by Guttmacher Institute on Wednesday.

The report titled "Adding it up: costs and benefits of meeting the contraceptive needs of adolescents" showed that an estimated 38 million of the 252 million adolescent women aged 15–19 in developing regions are sexually active and want to avoid pregnancy.

Yet most adolescents (84 percent) with unmet needs are using no contraceptive method; the remaining 16 percent rely on traditional methods, primarily withdrawal and periodic abstinence, which are less effective than modern methods, according to the report.

"Making it possible for young women to avoid unintended pregnancy and childbearing until they feel ready to become mothers can have a profound impact," said Jacqueline E. Darroch, lead author of the report. "It allows them to achieve healthier lives for themselves and their children, more education and better job opportunities."

The researchers estimate the total cost of providing modern contraceptives to the 15 million adolescent women currently using them is $222 million per year.

Expanding contraceptive services to address the needs of the 23 million adolescent women who currently have an unmet need for modern contraception would increase the total cost to $770 million annually.

Regionally, costs would be $351 million in Africa, $222 million in Asia, and $196 million in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Based on the report, meeting the need for modern contraception for all adolescent women who want to avoid pregnancy would result in:

--6.0 million fewer unintended pregnancies (a decline of 59 percent);

--2.1 million fewer unplanned births (a decline of 62 percent);

--3.2 million fewer abortions (a decline of 57 percent), including 2.4 million fewer unsafe abortions;

--700,000 fewer miscarriages of unintended pregnancies (a decline of 60 percent);

--5,600 fewer maternal deaths related to unintended pregnancies (a decline of 71 percent).

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