Like the waves on a pond, the benefits from family planning ripple outward from users to their families and communities. One of the biggest ripples is improving the health and survival of children. Explore the graphic to learn about how family planning contributes to improving child survival around the world.
Family planning enables women and couples to space pregnancies by at least 24 months, which improves child survival.1
Research shows that as the time between one birth to the next pregnancy increases, risks of mortality and complications such as preterm delivery and low birthweight decrease.2 When mothers become pregnant again shortly after a live birth, both the older child and the new infant face increased risks of death before age 5.
Worldwide, one out of every four child deaths could be prevented every year if all birth-to-pregnancy intervals were three years.
Family planning can enable women and couples to achieve healthy nutrition for themselves and their families. The “1,000 Day Window of Opportunity” from conception through a child’s second birthday is a critical period for nutrition, setting the stage for physical growth and brain development throughout the rest of a child’s life.3
During this period, infants are dependent on their mothers for balanced and sufficient nutrition – first in utero and then through breastfeeding. When a nursing mother becomes pregnant before the older child reaches age two, it can be difficult to satisfy the nutritional needs of both the nursing baby and the pregnancy, in addition to the mother’s own needs. But with family planning, women and couples can space pregnancies and wait until the older child reaches age two to become pregnant again.
Family planning helps parents to proactively plan for and achieve their desired family size. This allows mothers and fathers to focus their family’s resources on the number of children they want and can care for. Research has shown that when parents have access to comprehensive family planning, maternal, and child health services, they are able to achieve their desired family size. Child mortality was reduced, and the investment in each child increased – meaning better nutrition, greater use of preventive health services, and higher levels of academic achievement. The result is that families and children have the best chance of surviving and thriving.4
When family planning increases child survival and creates healthier families, it can also build healthy nations if governments invest in family planning programs. These investments will save nearly three times their cost over the next 10-15 years in the areas of maternal health, water and sanitation, immunization, education, and malaria. 5
When girls are able to delay pregnancy until age 18 or later, they are often able to stay in school longer. Each year of secondary education increases girls’ earnings later in life by 15 percent or more. 6
The lower mental ability and earning potential caused by poor nutrition in the first 1000 days affect the economy. But ensuring adequate nutrition for optimal growth and development could lead to a GDP increase of up to three percent.4