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Every year, 7.3 million girls become pregnant before they turn 18. Teenage pregnancy increases when girls are denied the right to make decisions about their sexual health and well-being.

What are the causes of teenage pregnancy?

A lack of access to sexual and reproductive health education and services is a key factor that causes girls to become pregnant. The expectations of communities on girls to become mothers early can be a cause along with sexual violence.

Child marriage is a key factor – approximately 90% of births to teenage mothers in developing countries occur within marriage.

Factors such as parents’ income and girls’ education also contribute. Girls who have received a low amount of education are 5 times more likely to become a mother than those with higher levels of education.

In addition, the unique risks faced by girls during emergencies increase the chances of them becoming pregnant.

What are the effects of teenage pregnancy?

Effect and risks of teenage pregnancy

Global problem with dangerous consequences - Key statistics

7.3 million girls become pregnant before 18 each year.

2.5 million girls aged 15 or younger give birth each year.

Pregnancy and childbirth complications are the second highest cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19.

To reach the Global Goal
on reducing maternal mortalitywe need to move 3 times faster

Half of pregnancies among girls aged 15–19 living in developing regions are unintended.

Every year, 3 million girls undergo unsafe abortions.

Where is teenage pregnancy most common?

Data: WorldBank*

How is Plan International helping girls?

Girls must have the ability to make decisions about their own bodies.

By raising girls’ awareness of sexual health, protecting them from abuse and connecting them with education and health services, we support the key decisions they make about their futures and bodies so they can avoid teenage pregnancy.

Nicaraguan teenagers make a commitment to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies in their community
Nicaraguan teenagers make a commitment to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies in their community.

In addition, we are calling on governments to strengthen national health systems, implement sex education in and out of schools, provide affordable, safe contraception and address the root causes of teenage pregnancy.

In Nicaragua, the country with the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Latin America, we’re educating young people about sexual health and encouraging open discussions about the issue.

Act now


In Uganda, 1 in 4 teenage girls are pregnant or have already given birth because they don't have the information or services they need to choose when they become mothers.

On 24 March, a group of young campaigners from Uganda will meet with members of their national Parliament to deliver a petition demanding better sexual health education and information.

Help give girls a choice – sign the petition today.

Sign the petition

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