• What is the abortion rate among young women, and what factors determine their decision to terminate a pregnancy and their choice of provider? What are the consequences of unsafe abortion?

  • What factors increase or decrease the probability that a young person will commit suicide?

  • What are the most common mental health problems among young people in developing countries? What is the status of diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses? What is the relationship between mental illness and risky behaviors?

  • What has been the effect on young people in countries in which prolonged wars have occurred? What are the physical, psychological, and emotional consequences of making the transition to adulthood in such an environment?

  • What are the factors that prevent young people from using contraceptive methods even when they do not want to become pregnant?

  • Are younger women more or less likely to die of maternal causes than older women? How do the risk factors for maternal mortality and morbidity differ between younger and older women?

  • What explains the rise in drug use among young people in developing countries? What specific factors explain the recent rapid increases in injecting drug use in some countries?

Further study is also needed of health among young people in the context of the life course. Some early life events, possibly even in the womb (Barker, 1998, 2003), have consequences for young people, and events during the transition to adulthood have consequences for health later in life. In general, the contribution of events during this phase of the life cycle—intermediate between infancy and old age—to later health needs clarification. As countries progress through a nutritional transition toward a better fed, sometimes overfed, populace, the contribution of youthful diet and exercise patterns to late life chronic conditions will become of increasing concern.

The systematic evaluation of interventions has been limited mostly to sexual and reproductive health, and many studies are largely inconclusive. These inconclusive results are sometimes due to flawed evaluation designs. There is a clear need to improve the level of methodological rigor in the evaluation of reproductive health interventions. Interventions in other areas, such as smoking and drug use, are largely untested and require basic research. Some of the most significant questions about interventions include:

  • What is the most effective way to transform knowledge about sexually transmitted infections into behavior change among young people?

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