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Studies in Guatemala and Kenya found that fewer than one in ten unmarried youths could correctly identify the fertile period (CDC 1991; Ajayi and others 1991). In most developing countries a majority of young women have heard of at least one modern contraceptive method, but they generally do not have adequate knowledge about correct usage. National surveys in several African countries found that although at least one in four women aged 15 to 19 was single and sexually experienced, few were using contraception.

Human papillomavirus infection results in genital cancer much more frequently in women than in men, and it is the single most important risk factor for cancer of the cervix, which accounts for more new cases of cancer each year in developing countries than any other type of cancer (Parkin, Laara, and Muir 1988). And although women Page 4 of reproductive age are thought to receive some protection against cardiovascular disease from the hormone estrogen, their risk increases after menopause. By age 65, a higher proportion of women than men die as a consequence of cardiovascular conditions (Lopez 1993).

Iron-deficiency anemia is particularly common among adolescent girls. Skeletal growth is also delayed by malnutrition, and since a smaller pelvis can prolong labor and obstruct delivery, incomplete skeletal growth, or stunting, poses serious risks during childbirth. Increased Substance Abuse. Adolescents often experiment with harmful substances, including tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Diseases associated with lifestyle and behavior have been less of a problem for women than for men, but this is changing in some countries.

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