Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Maternal death may be avoided with use of contraception

Contraceptives such as condoms not only protect against sexually transmitted diseases, like chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV, but also prevent over 272,000 maternal deaths and 230 million unplanned pregnancies every year around the globe, according to a study recently published in The Lancet.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimated the number of averted maternal deaths in 172 countries using data from the World Health Organization (WHO), and found that 38 deaths per 100,000 women were prevented with contraceptive use. Without means of protection, the rate would be 1.8 times higher.

"Promotion of contraceptive use is an effective primary prevention strategy for reducing maternal mortality in developing countries," said Saifuddin Ahmed, MBBS, Ph.D., the study's lead author. "Our findings reinforce the need to accelerate access to contraception in countries with a low prevalence of contraceptive use where gains in maternal mortality prevention could be greatest."

Every year, 358,000 women and 3 million newborn infants die because of pregnancy and childbirth complications, most of which occur in developing countries. There is still a great need for the distribution of contraceptives in these regions of the world, which could greatly reduce the number life-threatening childbirths and decrease the rate of maternal deaths.

Ahmed explains that just as vaccination prevents child mortality, contraception decreases the likelihood of maternal mortality.