Optimal Birth Spacing
Risky births have been categorized in the reproductive health and family planning literature by the "four too's": those that occur to women who are too young or too old, or for births that are too many or too close together. Having children too close together has long been associated with increased risk of various adverse health outcomes, including mortality, for infants, children and mothers. Increasing the interval between births and delaying age at first motherhood can reduce infant, child and maternal mortality significantly. Optimal birth spacing can save lives and improve the health and well being of mothers and their families.
USAID and the CATALYST Consortium have led the effort to revisit and revive birth spacing as a key reproductive health and comprehensive health concept, and one that has the potential to significantly improve the well being of women, children, men, families, and communities worldwide. The Optimal Birth Spacing Initiative (OBSI) is a bridge between child survival and family planning/reproductive health programs. OBSI can be mainstreamed into existing family planning/reproductive health, child survival , safe motherhood and other health programs.
USAID recently issued new guidance on birth spacing programming, recommending strengthened birth spacing messages, counseling and services to ensure fully informed birth spacing decisions. The USAID Birth Spacing guidance is available at the USAID Global Health Bureau Office of Population website. CATALYST has been chosen by USAID to be the Secretariat for the Optimal Birth Spacing Initiative.
CATALYST has been working closely with the Optimal Birth Spacing Champions to develop the OBSI strategic approach. The OBSI Champions is an ongoing working group of representatives from USAID, interested cooperating agencies, NGOs, academics and researchers.