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Population, Family and Reproductive Health

Faculty in the News

Saifuddin Ahmed, MBBS, PhD

Saifuddin AhmedAssociate Professor in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health with a joint appointment in Biostatistics. Trained as a physician, demographer and epidemiologist his research includes reproductive epidemiology, particularly maternal mortality estimation; program evaluation for family planning and MCH care. He is currently examining the prognosis, changes in quality of life and social integration of women with obstetric fistula after surgical repair in developing countries and is principal investigator for a multi-country study in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Niger and Nigeria.  He teaches courses on survey sampling methods and on complex survey data analysis. He is a technical advisor to Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group (MMEIG) for the WHO’s global estimation of maternal mortality. He has about 80 publications on peer-reviewed journals. He has received Advising, Mentoring and Teaching Recognition Award (AMTRA) for outstanding mentoring and teaching service in 2004 and 2009.

One major study that Saiffudin recently completed was Maternal Deaths Averted by Contraceptive Use which found that effective contraception prevents not only unintended pregnancies but maternal mortality as well. The estimation of the non-pregnancy prevention health benefits of contraceptive use, however, is difficult and challenging.

Dr. Saifuddin Ahmed and his colleagues at the Department of Population, family and Reproductive Health have used data from the WHO and UN and applied a counterfactual modeling approach to estimate maternal deaths averted by contraceptive use in 172 countries.  The results of the study were published in the Lancet.

There are at least four causal pathways through which family planning directly reduces the number of maternal deaths:  reducing women’s exposure to the incidence of pregnancies, reducing her vulnerability to unsafe abortions; delaying first births in young women when pelvic development is premature; and reducing the hazards of frailty from high-parity and closely-spaced pregnancies.

The Lancet - July 2012The Lancet - Link to articleContraception is estimated to prevent nearly 230 million unintended births each year around the globe.  The study has shown that that contraceptive use averted 272,000 maternal deaths globally in the reference year.  In the absence of contraceptive use, the number of maternal deaths would have been 1.8 times higher.  This is equivalent to a 44% reduction in maternal deaths by contraceptive use . About 38 maternal deaths are prevented for every 100,000 women using contraception method in a year.

The study further suggests that that satisfying the global unmet need for contraception of women who want to limit or space their pregnancies but are not using contraception could reduce maternal deaths by 30%, saving around 104,000 women’s lives in a year.

The study provides evidence that use of contraception is a substantial and effective primary prevention strategy for reducing maternal mortality in developing countries.

Visit his faculty profile page.