Health Consequences of Contraceptive Use and Reproductive Patterns

Summary of a Report from the US National Research Council

Published in: JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, v. 265, no. 20, May 22, 1991, p. 2692-2696

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1991

by Julie DaVanzo, Allan M. Parnell, William H. Foege

Summary results are presented from a U.S. National Research Council study of the health risks and benefits of contraceptive methods and the effects of reproductive patterns on women's and children's health. The study was commissioned to assess the comparative effects of contraceptive use and pregnancy on maternal and child health. While results suggest that reduced infant mortality rates may reduce future birth rates may also lead to reduce infant mortality. Moreover, it was broadly concluded that the health risks associated with using modern contraceptives in developing countries are significantly less that those associated with pregnancy and childbirth. The provision of contraceptive services, especially in conjunction with efforts to increase prenatal care, improve breastfeeding practices, and advance other health services to improve maternal and child health are therefore strongly encouraged. Given that maternal, infant, and child mortality and morbidity are related to reproductive patterns, and remain important problems throughout developing countries, reducing high-risk pregnancies will have a positive impact on maternal and infant health throughout developing countries. Greater control over reproduction will help reduce the number of births, facilitate birth spacing, and decrease the number of unsafe abortions. Maximum effort should be devoted to develop both health and family planning programs. Reproductive patterns along with the risks and benefits of respective contraceptive methods are explored.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.