Does women's age matter in the SDGs era: coverage of demand for family planning satisfied with modern methods and institutional delivery in 91 low- and middle-income countries

Inacio Crochemore M. da Silva, Fernanda Everling, Franciele Hellwig, Carine Ronsmans, Lenka Benova, Jennifer Requejo, Anita Raj, Aluisio J. D. Barros, Cesar G. Victora

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Background The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include specific targets for family planning (SDG 3.7) and birth attendance (SDG 3.1.2), and require analyses disaggregated by age and other dimensions of inequality (SDG 17.18). We aimed to describe coverage with demand for family planning satisfied with modern methods (DFPSm) and institutional delivery in low- and middle-income countries across the reproductive age spectrum. We attempted to identify a typology of patterns of coverage by age and compare their distribution according to geographic regions, World Bank income groups and intervention coverage levels. Methods We used Demographic and Health Survey and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. For DFPSm, we considered the woman's age at the time of the survey, whereas for institutional delivery we considered the woman's age at birth of the child. Both age variables were categorized into seven groups of 5 year-intervals, 15-19 up to 45-49. Five distinct patterns were identified: (a) increasing coverage with age; (b) similar coverage in all age groups; (c) U-shaped; (d) inverse U-shaped; and (e) declining coverage with age. The frequency of the five patterns was examined according to UNICEF regions, World Bank income groups, and coverage at national level of the given indicator. Results We analyzed 91 countries. For DFPSm, the most frequent age patterns were inverse U-shaped (53%, 47 countries) and increasing coverage with age (41%, 36 countries). Inverse-U shaped patterns for DFPSm was the commonest pattern among lower-middle income countries, while low- and upper middle-income countries showed a more balanced distribution between increasing with age and U-shaped patterns. In the first and second tertiles of national coverage of DFPSm, inverse U-shaped was observed in more than half of countries. For institutional delivery, declining coverage with age was the prevailing pattern (44%, 39 countries), followed by similar coverage across age groups (39%, 35 countries). Most (79%) upper-middle income countries showed no variation by age group while most low-income countries showed declining coverage with age (71%). Conclusion Large inequalities in DFPSm and institutional delivery were identified by age, varying from one intervention to the other. Policy and programmatic approaches must be tailored to national patterns, and in most cases older women and adolescents will require special attention due to lower coverage and because they are at higher risk for maternal mortality and other poor obstetrical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number55
JournalReproductive Health
Issue number1
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Health inequalities
  • Age patterns
  • Reproductive health
  • Sustainable development goals

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