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Facts for Life

Timing Births

Why it is important to share and act on information


Too many births, births too close together and births to adolescent girls under 18 and women over 35 endanger the lives of women and adolescents and their infants.

Family planning is one of the most effective ways to improve women's and children's health and survival. Family planning services provide women and men with information, education and the means to plan when to begin having children, how many to have, how far apart to have them and when to stop. However, millions of women of childbearing age, including adolescent girls, do not have control over limiting pregnancies or spacing births, nor do they have access to effective family planning methods.

Both women and men have the right to choose how many children to have and when to have them. With family planning services they are enabled to make informed decisions on pregnancy by taking into account the benefits and risks, including those related to age and level of access to health services.

Ensuring access to family planning services for women and men, and to education for all children would help prevent many maternal and child deaths and disabilities, particularly in countries where marriage occurs early in life. Together these measures can contribute to women's, adolescent girls' and children's right to survival, health and well-being.