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  Press Summaries

December 3, 1999

MMWR articles are embargoed until 4 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday.

MMWR Synopsis
  1. Achievements in Public Health 1900–1999: Advances in Family Planning
  2. Progress Toward Measles Elimination — Eastern Mediterranean Region, 1980–1998
  3. Alcohol Involvement in Fatal Motor-Vehicle Crashes — United States, 1997–1998
Fact Sheet: Facts about Family Planning

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Synopsis December 3, 1999

Achievements in Public Health 1900–1999: Advances in Family Planning
The hallmark of progress in family planning during this century is the ability to achieve desired birth spacing and family size.

John Santelli, M.D., M.P.H.
CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion
(770) 488–5200
Fertility rates in the United States decreased in the 19th and 20th centuries as couples chose to limit family size. Smaller family size and longer birth intervals have contributed to improved health of infants, children and women, and improved the social and economic roles for women. The most common methods of contraception have changed dramatically over the past 50 years, from the condom in 1955 to oral contraceptives in 1965, and female sterilization today. Condom use rose dramatically during the 1980s and 1990s, especially among teens. While unintended pregnancy remains high in the United States (49% of all pregnancies), publicly supported family planning services are estimated to prevent 1.3 million unintended pregnancies annually. Modern contraceptive methods have contributed to a 17% decline in the worldwide fertility rate in the past decade.

  Progress Toward Measles Elimination — Eastern Mediterranean Region, 1980–1998
Although eliminating polio is the highest immunization priority, countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region have set a goal to eliminate measles by 2010.
Peter Strebel, M.D.
CDC, National Immunization Program
(404) 639–8764
In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, 23 countries are actively working to eliminate measles from the region. The measles elimination strategies are 1) achieving and maintaining routine measles vaccination coverage at >=95% among 1-year-old children, 2) conducting a one-time mass vaccination campaign (catch-up program), 3) conducting periodic national follow-up campaigns, and 4) strengthening measles surveillance and laboratory confirmation of cases. In 14 of the 23 countries, a total of 13 million children have been vaccinated. Before the introduction of vaccination in the early 1980s, approximately 200,000 measles cases were reported each year from those 14 countries (except Palestine). Once vaccination programs began, the reported number of measles cases decreased from 184,000 (in 1980) to 61,000 (in 1985).

  Alcohol Involvement in Fatal Motor-Vehicle Crashes — United States, 1997–1998
Drinking and driving are still serious public health problems.
Ruth Shults, Ph.D., M.P.H.
CDC, National Center for Injury Prevention & Control
(770) 488–4652
In 1998, 15,935 people died and 305, 000 were injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes in the United States. During 1988-1998, the proportion of all traffic fatalities that were alcohol-related decreased from 50% to 38%, and the rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities declined from 9.7 to 5.9 per 100,000 people. However, the percentage of alcohol-related deaths has remain constant at 38.4% in 1998 and 38.5% in 1997. The national health objective for 2000 for alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths is 5.5 per 100,000 persons. A fatal crash is considered alcohol-related by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) if either a driver or nonoccupant (e.g., pedestrian) had a blood alcohol concentration of >0.01% grams per deciliter in a police-reported traffic crash. December is "National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month."

Fact Sheets

Facts about Family Planning

December 3, 1999
CDC, Division of Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

  • In 1900 the average mother gave birth to 3.5 children, and 6-9 of every 1,000 women died in childbirth. One in 5 children died before their 5th birthday.
  • Family size declined from 7.0 children to 3.5 between1800-1900. During the Great Depression, it declined further to 2.3, until the baby boom of the 1940s and 1950s when family size peaked at 3.7.
  • The Comstock laws enacted in the late 1800s outlawed the distribution of information about contraception and contraceptive devices.
  • In 1916 Margaret Sanger, a public health nurse and birth control activist, opened the first family planning clinic in Brooklyn. Her subsequent legal battles paved the way for birth control to come under the professional control of physicians.
  • 71% of women born between 1901 and 1910 reported using contraception. The most common forms were condoms, douches, withdrawal, rhythm and diaphragm.
  • Modern methods of contraception began in 1960 with the development of the birth control pill and intrauterine device (IUD). Surgical sterilization which became more common after 1965 is now the most widely used contraceptive method in the US.
  • Federal funding for family planning services was authorized in 1970 by Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Medicaid funding was authorized in 1972.
  • In 1994, 3,119 agencies operated 7,122 family planning clinic sites serving about 6.6 million women. These services prevented an estimated 1.3 million unintended pregnancies, 534,000 unintended births, 632,000 abortions and 165,000 miscarriages.
  • Barrier methods of contraception such as condoms help protect against sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.
  • Oral contraceptives reduce the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, cancers of the ovary and endometrium, recurrent ovarian cysts, benign breast cysts and fibroadenomas, and discomfort from menstrual cramps.
  • Even though notable declines in the worldwide fertility rate have been observed in the past decade, particularly in Asia and Latin America (24%), worldwide population growth has been a central concern of this century. The world's population was 1.6 billion in 1900. On October 12, 1999, the 6 billionth baby was born.
  • With an overall17% decline in fertility in the developing world, the rate of infant mortality has fallen approximately 150 deaths per 1,000 live births in the 1950s to about 80 per 1,000 in the early1990s.
  • Family planning services offer opportunities for health screening counseling and treatment for such diseases as cervical and breast cancer, sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and HIV/AIDS.
  • 49% of pregnancies are unintended and 54% of these end in abortion.
  • Teenage pregnancy rates remain high and the proportion of births to unmarried teens continued to increase in the 1990s.
  • An estimated 12 million new STDs occur each year in the United States; mostly among adolescents and young adults.
  • The growth of managed care is rapidly changing patterns of health care delivery. In the late 1990s, 19 states mandated partial or comprehensive insurance coverage for reversible methods of contraception such as birth control pills and IUDs.

For more information on contraception and family planning visit this CDC website

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