The Lancet Publishes New Study on Maternal Mortality in Adolescents

The following contains excerpts from The Lancet article "Maternal mortality in adolescents compared with women of other ages: evidence from 144 countries."

The Lancet has published a new article investigating the toll of maternal mortality on adolescents. Adolescents are often noted to have an increased risk of death during pregnancy or childbirth compared with older women, but the existing evidence is inconsistent and in many cases contradictory. The new study aimed to quantify the risk of maternal death in adolescents by estimating maternal mortality ratios for women aged 15 to 19 years of age by country, region, and worldwide, and to compare the ratios with those for women in other 5-year age groups.

Using data from 144 countries and territories, the authors adjusted estimates to take into account under-reporting of maternal deaths and deaths during pregnancy from non-maternal causes. They then applied these adjusted figures to the most reliable age-specific estimates of deaths and livebirths to derive age-specific maternal mortality ratios.

The authors found that there was a slightly increased risk of maternal mortality in adolescents compared with women aged 20—24 years. They found the highest risk in women older than 30 years. Analysis of individual countries showed significant differences with no obvious trends in terms of economic development, demographic characteristics, or geographical region for countries.

These findings suggest that the increased risk of maternal to adolescent mothers might be less than previously believed and that in most countries, the adolescent maternal mortality ratio is low compared with women older than 30 years. The authors specifically mention that these findings should not divert focus away from efforts to reduce adolescent pregnancy, which are central to the promotion of women's educational, social, and economic development.


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