Mortality rates still too high for world's teens
This map shows births among adolescent girls 15 to 19 years old as a percentage of total births between 2000 and 2010.
April 24th, 2012
06:31 PM ET

Mortality rates still too high for world's teens

It's known as the "youth bulge" - a decrease in child mortality rates leading to the largest generation of adolescents in history: 1.2 billion to be exact.

As many of those teens face poverty, natural disasters and wars in addition to overwhelming physical and emotional changes, researchers worry about the lack of available health resources.

"The high income world has been grappling with a rising tide of risks for non-communicable diseases, including the problems of obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use," write the authors of a paper published in The Lancet this week. "That tide is now overwhelming many [lower-to-middle-income countries] who have yet to bring in measures to control the problems of injury, infectious disease and maternal mortality in this young age group.”

Adolescent is defined by researchers as those aged 10 to 19, due to growing trends in the earlier onset of puberty and delayed transition into adult roles.

The paper, titled "Health of the world’s adolescents: a synthesis of internationally comparable data," is just one of several published in this edition of the journal. Those papers are paired with a report card on adolescent health released by UNICEF.

Both publications offer an intriguing overview of teenagers' health and the risks they face around the globe:

- The U.S. has the worst adolescent mortality rate out of 27 high income countries. Its rates of violent deaths (gang-related, homicides, etc.) are 10 to 20 times higher than other developed countries.

- Suicide is the leading cause of death among adolescents worldwide, with the highest rates in Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.

- Early childbirth is the leading cause of death for adolescent girls in Africa. Complications related to pregnancy account for 50,000 deaths each year.

- In Eastern and Southern Africa, unsafe sex is one of the greatest risk factors for 10 to 14 year olds.

- One in five adolescents in high income countries are binge drinking at least weekly. The U.S. also has a high rate,despite having a legal drinking age of 21.

- Approximately 2.2. million adolescents are living with HIV.

- More than a third of teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are anemic, or have a deficient number of red blood cells and/or hemoglobin in the blood. Most anemia is due to insufficient iron in a person's diet. Anemia can increase the risk of hemorrhage or sepsis during childbirth.

- Although obesity is a growing problem in many countries, nearly 50% of girls aged 15 to 19 in India are underweight and more than 25% are underweight in 10 other countries.

- Latin America and the Caribbean have the highest prevalence rates of adolescent tobacco use.

For more information, visit TheLancet.com or UNICEF.org

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Portland tony

    II wonder if soldiering by young men was taken into statistical account? Most of the wars are fought by "adolescents"!

    April 24, 2012 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Spirit


      And Hikerstud – This is worldwide statistics. Take into account the amount of deaths of 'adolescents' in the middle east.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
  2. Hikerstud

    Very few die in wars anymore compared to WW! and 2 where tens of millions. all the hoopla and whining about how terrible Iraq n IRan are we only lost a few thousand. We lost 10 times that many every year in traffic. The muslims kill way more christians every year and nobody worries about that.

    April 25, 2012 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • McJesus

      "The muslims". That sure narrows things down to a few billion individuals.

      April 25, 2012 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
  3. and??

    this is due to the fact that they think they are bullett proof,and only others die doing mornic things.....

    April 25, 2012 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Sybaris

    Gun toting overzealous wannabe cops like Zimmerman don't help teen mortality rates either.

    April 25, 2012 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Freedom Rock

    The rent is (also) too damn high.

    April 25, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. VladimirG

    So we have all of these European countries, Canada, Australia... all of these countries have less restrictive laws and all of these countries have lower teenager death rates. Is it that American kids are extremely dumb and want to kill themselves or is there a legislative issue here?

    April 25, 2012 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Samuel

    There is an assault on kids especially in America with all the toxins in the food, water, and massive psychiatric drugging which is nothing short of criminal. The elite in charge want to lower the population so it makes sense to kill people before they have a chance to reproduce.

    April 25, 2012 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Jeffrey Dahmer

    Actually the teen mortality rate isn't nearly high enough. We're overpopulating the world as it is.

    April 25, 2012 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. McJesus

    Thank God for high third world mortality rates, because God likes them less than the first world. That is why more people die there. I am using religious logic there... which really isn't logic at all.

    April 25, 2012 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Big Toots

    The planet is overpopulated. Since we choose not to use civilized methods of family planning the traditional methods of population control like wars, starvation, accidents, drugs, homicide (and other "cides", natural disasters, crop failures, etc. will have to do for now.

    April 25, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Michael

    Why is the graphic about Teen Pregnancy while the article is about Teen Mortality?
    Other than the one line: :Early childbirth is the leading cause of death for adolescent girls in Africa" it doesn't seem to apply.

    April 26, 2012 at 02:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Dekkar

    Oh man, look at how much higher the teen pregnancy rate is in the USA than it is in Canada! That's crazy! You guys south of the 49th must be doing something really wrong with your 'abstinence' education.

    April 26, 2012 at 02:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Ethics Board

    " Although obesity is a growing problem in many countries, nearly 50% of girls aged 15 to 19 in India are underweight and more than 25% are underweight in 10 other countries."

    This should say "industrialized countries". Much of worlds population lives in poverty. Obesity is not a issue for them.

    April 26, 2012 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply

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