Youth Bear Large Burden of Global Death, Disease

Higher rates of disability-adjusted life-years in Africa compared to high-income countries

TUESDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- Youths between the ages of 10 and 24 years carry 15.5 percent of the global burden of disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), according to a study published online June 7 in The Lancet.

Fiona M. Gore, from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, and colleagues utilized data from the 2004 Global Burden of Disease study to assess the global and regional burden of disease and the associated risk factors in youth aged 10 to 24 years living in WHO member states classified as low, middle, or high income. Cause-specific DALYs, including years of life lost (YLLs) as a result of premature mortality and years lost due to disability (YLDs) were estimated and presented for regions according to gender and by five-year age groups.

The investigators identified a total of 236 million incident DALYs in individuals aged 10 to 24 years, representing 15.5 percent of the total DALYs for all age groups. Africa had the highest rates of DALYs, 2.5 times that of high-income countries. Between the ages of 15 and 19 years, the DALYs rates were 12 percent higher for girls than boys. The three main causes of YLDs, worldwide, were neuropsychiatric disorders (45 percent), unintentional injuries (12 percent), and infectious and parasitic diseases (10 percent). Primary risk factors identified for incident DALYs included alcohol use, unsafe sex, iron deficiency, lack of contraception, and illicit drug use.

"Worldwide, young people bear a substantial burden of DALYs, both for YLLs and for YLDs, representing 15.5 percent of the total DALY burden for all age groups," the authors write.

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