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In: Current problems in obstetrics and gynecology, Vol. 5, No. 6, edited by John M. Leventhal. Chicago, Illinois, Year Book Medical Publishers, 1982. 4-41.This article addresses the medical aspects of population growth, with specific focus on a demographic overview, population policies, family planning programs, and population issues in the US. The dimensions of the population problem and their implications for social and economic development are reviewed. The world's response to these issues is discussed, followed by an assessment of what has been accomplished, particularly as it relates to the record of national family planning programs in developing countries. The impact of population growth on such issues as education, available farm land, deforestation, and urban growth are discussed. Urban populations are growing at an unprecedented rate, posing urgent problems for action. From a public health perspective, data are reviewed which demonstrate that having children at short intervals (2 years) or at unfavorable maternal ages (18 or 35) and/or parity (4) has a negative impact on maternal, infant and childhood morbidity and mortality, particularly in developing countries. Increasing the age of marriage, delaying the 1st birth, changing and improving the status of women, increasing educational levels and improving living conditions in general also are important in reducing population growth. Probably the most important, but most controversial intervention, has been the development of national family planning programs aimed at increasing the public's access to modern contraceptive and sterilization methods. India was the 1st country to declare a formal population policy (in the 1950s) with the goal of reducing population growth. Currently, close to 35 countries have formal policies. The planned parenthood movement, with central support from the London office of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), has played a most important role in making family planning services available. 2 population issues in the US today are reviewed briefly in the final section: teenage pregnancy and the changing age structure.