Women and girls have been the hardest hit by the global recession, according to a report published by an international child protection organisation.
The global financial crisis sent female infant mortality rates soaring and saw a drop in life expectancy.
The researchers say young women were also taken out of primary school at higher rates than young men.
A shrinking economy, especially in the developing world, has made life far tougher for millions of people.
Nigel Chapman, the chief executive of not-for-profit children's development organisation Plan International, says it is even tougher for women.
"What we're discovering is that the whole situation for girls and women is sort of being buried beneath the bigger economic news and the greater inequality that's emanating from the recession is not being spotted," he said.
The report pulls together information from sources like universities, the World Bank and UNICEF.
It found stark differences between how men and women have coped with recession in poorer countries.
"Girls are being treated worse that boys, young women are being treated worse than young men," he added.
Supporting the family Nigel Chapman says it has been particularly bad in the areas of family finances, health care programs and education.
"They're being sucked back into supporting the family, either through paid work - often very, very young ages - or through unpaid work, which then releases time for the mother, usually the mother, to go to work and earn money to fill the gap left by the lack of jobs," he observed.
The report found for every 1 per cent shaved off a developing country's GDP, infant mortality rose more than seven deaths per 1,000 girls.
That is compared to 1.5 deaths per 1,000 boys.
"Decline in access to services that would mitigate that and general, you know, food and nutrition issues also relate to that too," he explained.
"So as families get poorer, they've got less money to spend on decent food and nutrition, children get sickly and, unfortunately in many families, boys are preferred to girls in that situation when the food is scarce and so girls die faster than boys." The researchers also saw increases in child labour and say in bad economic times, young girls and women are vulnerable to sexual abuse.
"In some cases they're sent out to work to earn money through sex work, through prostitution, which is of course is very, very worrying," he said.
"They're very, very vulnerable children and it just exacerbates a pattern or a trend that happens in some countries already, but it makes it worse." The report's release comes as economic and political leaders are due to meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.
One of the report's authors, Nicola Jones, from the Overseas Development Institute, wants governments to recommit to funding international aid.
"The lag effects of the economic recession are really putting their rights to basic wellbeing at risk," she said.
"If we don't pay greater attention then many of the gains from the millennium development goals, which have focused on things like education, health and immunisations, will be undermined - or you know, they'll even be backwards slides."