Birth Spacing: 2004 Evidence Supports 3+ Years

This brief discusses the following points:

  • New 2004 evidence from DHS and other analyses confirms earlier findings that spacing births three to five years apart is associated with the lowest risk for neonatal, infant, child, and under-five mortality.
  • New analyses also indicate that postabortion (spontaneous or induced) - next pregnancy intervals shorter than six months are associated with adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes in the next pregnancy.
  • While birth spacing was a common theme of family planning programs in the past, recent reviews have identified substantial programmatic gaps. In many countries, birth spacing is not included in mortality reduction strategies. Programmatic actions are needed in policy, advocacy, communications, community outreach, services, and research.
  • In 2003, if women in developing countries (excluding China) had spaced births approximately 36 months apart, it is estimated that 3 million deaths to children under the age of five could have been averted, accounting for 35% of all deaths to children in this age group.
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INFO Project at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs