Addressing Critical Knowledge Gaps in Newborn Health

Reproductive Health / Family Planning

Family planning benefits more than just the adolescent girls and women who utilize it; it is vital to child survival. 570,000 newborn babies' lives would be saved if the unmet need for family planning was fulfilled. 79,000 women's lives would also be saved.

Ensuring women and girls are able to plan whether and when they have babies means babies and young children are more likely to survive and saves the life of adolescent girls and women who are pregant. There are two key ways that access to family planning has the potential to impact the health and well-being of children:

Healthy Spacing of Pregancies                                                               

When an adolescent girl or woman has a baby too soon after a previous birth, it is dangerous for the mother and the baby.  Children born less than two years after a sibling are two times more likely to die within the first year of life than those born 3 or more years later. Waiting longer to conceive after a birth means a mother can give her new baby the best start in life; she will have more time to care for her baby and for breastfeeding.

Children having Children

Across the world, complications to pregancancy is the number 1 killer of girls and young women between 15 and 19 years of age. 50,000 teenage girls and young women die each year during pregancy or childbirth, too often because their bodies are not ready to bear children. Babies born to young mothers are at a much greater risk of death than babies born to women who are 18 or older. More than 1 million babies born to adolescent girls die before their first birthday. In developing countries, if a mother is under 18, her baby's chance of dying in the firsty year ofl life is 60% higher than that of a baby born to a mother older than 19. According to WHO, the proportion of stillbirths and deaths in babies’ first week of life are 50% higher among women under 20, than among women aged 20–29.

Photo: Suzanne Lee/Save the Children