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Profamilia. 1988 Dec;4(13):28-33.

[Impact of family planning on maternal-child health].

[Article in Spanish]



An estimated 15 million children under 5 die each year, most of them in developing countries. Some 1/2 million women die of causes related to pregnancy, leaving at least 1 million children orphaned. The World Fertility Surveys of the 1970s demonstrated the direct relationship between family planning and maternal-child health. Between 1985-2000, some 2 billion children are expected to be born, 87% of them in developing countries. Some 240 million will die before 5 years. The main causes of death in small children are acute diarrheal disease, respiratory infections, transmissible diseases preventable with vaccination, malaria, malnutrition, and high fertility. 3 aspects of reproduction have significant effects on child survival: spacing, parity, and maternal age. In 1986, approximately 2 million children under 5 died because of risks associated with rapid procreation, and it is estimated that 1/5 of all child deaths could have been prevented with longer birth intervals. Maternal exhaustion and the inability to give adequate care to several small children at once are believed to be the main causes. The problem of abortion or fetal death increases significantly beginning at the 3rd birth, and the proportion of low birth weight babies increases at the 4th birth. The risk of malnutrition increases in large families with limited resources. The safest ages for childbearing are 20-34 years; the worldwide infant mortality rate for mothers under 20 is about 126/1000. Adolescent mothers are at increased risk of problems in the pregnancy and delivery. Family planning can reduce risks related to spacing, family size, and maternal age, and also risk of congenital defects that increase for older mothers. According to the World Health Organization, each year there are some 500,000 maternal deaths, only 6000 of which occur in developed countries. Immediate causes of maternal death in developing countries include hemorrhage, sepsis, eclampsia, dystocic delivery, and induced abortion, but the underlying causes are related to the poor situation of the woman: poverty, illiteracy, lack of adequate prenatal health care, and childbearing at extreme ages. Estimates based on the World Fertility Survey suggest that if all women stating they wanted no more children used contraception, 30% of maternal deaths would be avoided. It is estimated that some 15 million women undergo induced abortions each year, with 100,000-200,000 resulting deaths.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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