Publications Summary

Document Type
Analytical Studies
Publication Topic(s)
Family Planning, Fertility and Fertility Preferences, Infant and Child Mortality, Maternal Mortality
Recommended Citation
Recommended citation: Rutstein, Shea, and Rebecca Winter. 2015. Contraception Needed to Avoid High-Fertility-Risk Births, and Maternal and Child Deaths That Would Be Averted. DHS Analytical Studies No. 50. Rockville, Maryland, USA: ICF International.
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Publication Date
September 2015
Publication ID

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This report estimates the number of maternal and child deaths that could be averted by satisfying the unmet need for contraception based on four high-risk fertility behavior categories, i.e., having a birth at too young an age, too old an age, with inadequate spacing, and at high parity. The data come from 45 Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 2006 and 2012 with 691,362 non-pregnant women. Twenty-one percent of non-pregnant women have an unmet need for contraception due to their desires or their fertility risk, 5 percent for an unmet spacing method, and 16 percent for a limiting method. Another 20 percent are using a spacing method but have a need for a long- acting, permanent method of family planning. In total, 41 percent of women have a need for focused efforts by family planning programs. By satisfying the risk-based unmet need for contraception, over half of infant and under- five deaths could be averted, with 3.2 million deaths averted out of the 5.6 million deaths projected for 2015. Even more spectacular is the number of maternal deaths that could be averted, i.e., 109,000 out of the 155,000 projected, for a reduction of 70 percent. Only two of five women who need focused efforts and who visited a health facility in the preceding year were informed about family planning. It is thus incumbent upon national and private health programs and donors to serve the women with unmet needs, to cost-effectively avert maternal and child deaths, and to reach the Sustainable Development Targets 3.1 and 3.2.


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