Global Evidence

This section provides links to global evidence on the relationship between MIYCN and FP and highlights recent research and synergies, including:

  • A 4-page MIYCN-FP Advocacy Brief, which gives a brief summary of key evidence
  • The MIYCN-FP Bibliography, which lists documents supporting the rationale for integrated MIYCN-FP programs, with studies and reports from 2000-2014
  • A Systematic Review of Integration of Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health and Nutrition and Family Planning which looks at the evidence for and effectiveness of MNCHN-FP integration and provides recommendations for program planners, policy makers, and researchers

Short birth-to-pregnancy intervals are associated with poor pregnancy and child nutrition outcomes. An analysis of Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from 52 developing countries revealed that children conceived less than 24 months after the birth of the next oldest sibling had one to two times (1.1–2.3) greater risk of dying within the first year of life than children conceived 36 to 47 months apart. This same DHS analysis also revealed the likelihood of a child becoming stunted or chronically undernourished increases substantially with decreasing birth intervals. Children conceived after an interval of only 12 to 17 months are 25 percent more likely to be stunted and 25 percent more likely to be underweight than those conceived after an interval of 36 to 47 months.

Percentage of Children Alive and Not Undernourished by Duration of Preceding Birth-to-Conception Intervals

Graph: Percentage of Children Alive and Not Undernourished by Duration of Preceding Birth-to-Conception Intervals

As the amount of time between birth and next pregnancy increases, so do the odds that children are alive and not undernourished (Rutstein, 2008). 

The first 1,000 days of a child's life is a critical time to prevent undernutrition. Growth faltering in developing countries typically happens between 6 and 24 months, when infants and young children begin to receive complementary foods in addition to breastmilk. This is also the time that women using the lactational amenhorrea method (LAM) to prevent pregnancy should transition to another modern method. Family planning is a lifesaving intervention that can avert unintended pregnancy and lengthen the time between pregnancies, decreasing the risk of maternal nutrient deficiencies, poor pregnancy outcomes, and infant mortality. 

There is growing recognition that MIYCN and FP are closely intertwined health needs and that interventions in these areas can have positive synergistic effects on maternal and child health. Harmonizing counseling and services for MIYCN and FP throughout the continuum from before pregnancy to early childhood will help to improve outcomes.