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Contraceptive use saves the lives of more than 250,000 women annually

Researchers say that increasing contraceptive use in developing countries has cut the number of maternal deaths by 40 per cent over the past 20 years.

Image: Tim Ireland/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE USE OF contraceptives saves the lives of more than 250,000 women in the developing world each year, according to a new study.

In 2008, approximately 272,040 women died during childbirth or from dangerous abortion procedures, according to research published in leading medical journal The Lancet. Researchers estimated that without the use of contraceptives, the rate of maternal death would have been 1.8 times greater.

The study found that prematurity and low birthweight doubled when conception occurred within six months of a previous birth, and that children born within two years of an elder sibling were 60 per cent more likely to die in infancy than those born two years afterward.

“Increasing contraceptive use in developing countries has cut the number of maternal deaths by 40 per cent over the past 20 years,” researchers stated.

The study, led by professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine John Cleland, concluded that the number of unwanted pregnancies and unmet contraceptive need are still high in many developing countries – and that the use of contraception is “a substantial and effective primary prevention strategy to reduce maternal mortality in developing countries”.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the report stated that satisfying the unmet contraceptive needs of women in the developing world would result in a 29 per cent decrease of maternal deaths.

The information has been published to coincide with the London Summit on Family Planning.

Read: Ireland not invited to world summit on family planning>

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