Focus on Child Brides in Africa

Today, the International Day of the African Child, is an opportunity to think about the rights of all African children to health and education, writes Zoë Mullan, editor of the Lancet Global Health.

The African Union set the day to commemorate the hundreds who died during the 1976 protests by black schoolchildren against racially biased educational practices in South Africa. This year’s focus is ending child marriage—a practice that affects 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

Child brides are less likely to receive adequate medical care while pregnant, and face a greater risk of maternal death. The consequences affect the next generation, Mullan explains, directing readers to an article in this month’s Lancet Global Health that investigates this connection.

A cohort study of 22,000 mothers from Brazil, Guatemala, India, the Philippines and South Africa found that the children of those under 19 years old “…were more likely than those of mothers aged 20–24 years to be born preterm or low birthweight, to be stunted in infancy, to have poor schooling, to be short as adults, and to have higher adult fasting glucose concentrations.”

The Lancet Global Health (Editorial)

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