Limit families to two children to save the planet: doctor

Couples should not have more than two children for the sake of the planet, a leading expert argues.

Rebecca Smith

Professor John Guillebaud will tell a conference of GPs that a non-rigid guideline should be introduced in Britain that says ‘a two child maximum is the greatest contribution anyone can make to a habitable planet for our grandchildren’.

GPs should encourage patients not to have more than two children when they are offering family planning and contraceptive advice, he will say today at Royal College of General Practitioners annual conference in Harrogate.

Professor Guillebaud, Emeritus Professor of Reproductive Health and Family Planning, at University College London, is due to present a paper entitled Sex and the world population ‘youthquake’ – a sustainable future?

The birth rate has been rising for a number of years in Britain and there are around 790,000 babies born a year.

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that in 2009 the average number of children per woman was just under two. This is mostly because larger families are balanced out by a growing number of women choosing not to have children.

Professor Guillebaud told the Daily Telegraph: “The world is experiencing a ‘youthquake’. In Uganda where I went to my first school, 49 per cent of the population is under 15.

“In the UK our teenage pregnancy rate remains the worst in Europe.

“GPs rightly play a significant role in preventing unplanned pregnancies, especially among young people, but what about planned pregnancies?

“Without censoring those who through ignorance of these issues had larger families in the past, shouldn’t we now promote a non-rigid guideline to UK couples that a two child maximum is the greatest contribution anyone can make to a habitable planet for our grandchildren?”

Two children per couple would ensure the population remained stable while three children each having three children leads to nine children.

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