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 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.

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