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Young People at High Risk of Death Worldwide

Teens in low- and middle-income countries fare the worst, statistics show

THURSDAY, Sept. 10, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- In a study of global death rates, researchers have found that 97 percent of deaths among children and young adults aged 10 to 24 occur in poor and middle-income countries.

While much of the world focuses on infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, 40 percent of the deaths in this age group occur because of accidents or violence, including war, the researchers report in the Sept. 12 issue of The Lancet.

Dr. George Patton, of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and international colleagues looked at worldwide statistics from reports issued in 2004 and 2006. In 2004, 2.6 million people died between the ages of 10 and 24 worldwide, and nearly two-thirds of them were in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, even though those areas make up just 42 percent of the world population in that age group.

The researchers found that girls and young women were especially affected by the disparity. Fifteen percent of deaths of females were due to consequences of being mothers.

Traffic accidents accounted for 14 percent of male deaths and 5 percent of female deaths.

In Africa and Southeast Asia, tuberculosis and certain lung infections cause more youth deaths than HIV/AIDS, "but have not yet attracted a similar response in policy," the researchers wrote.

In a commentary, Dr. Robert W. Blum, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote that "although adolescence is often referred to as the healthiest stage of life, [this report] makes clear that young people are at substantial risk for mortality."

More information

Learn more about worldwide health statistics from the World Health Organization.

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Sept. 10, 2009
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