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Asia Pac Pop Policy. 1993 Sep;(26):1-4.

Family planning's benefits include improved child health and nutrition: new data from Bangladesh.



2 recent studies from the Matlab in Bangladesh confirm that family planning promotes child survival. The 1st study is a longitudinal analysis of 3370 births in 1985 to women living in 70 villages who were served by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh's Matlab Family Planning and Health Services Project. The 2nd is a study of 12-26 month old children and 24-36 month old children, all of whom were born in the same 70 villages between July 1985 and June 1986. The 1st study demonstrates that family planning improves child survival by lengthening the birth interval. In fact, if women delay a subsequent birth by about 2 years, child survival improves at all ages up to 5 years. Longer birth intervals result in a reduction of very high order births. The same study also reveals that family planning improves child survival indirectly by granting mothers access to integrated maternal and child health services. The 2nd study indicates that a child is 3 times more likely to suffer malnutrition, even at age 3, than a child whose mother gives birth again at an interval greater than 24 months. Specifically, the mother removes the index child from the breast prematurely, thereby adversely affecting the index child's nutrition. The birth interval prior to the index child does not adversely affect the index child's nutritional status, however. The 2nd study's result suggest that birth spacing, as promoted by family planning programs, improves child health and nutrition. The findings from these studies show the importance of continued investments in family planning programs in developing countries.

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