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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
2 (
2
); 212-219
doi:
10.21106/ijma.27

Socio-economic and Demographic Determinants of Antenatal Care Services Utilization in Central Nepal

Department of Community Medicine, KIST Medical College Teaching Hospital, Imadol-6, Lalitpur Nepal
Office of Central Regional Health, Directorate, Hetauda, Nepal
Corresponding author email: sirupandey@gmail.com
Licence
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract

Background/Objective:

The importance of maternal health services in lessening maternal mortality and morbidity as well as neonatal deaths has received substantial recognition in the past decade. The lack of antenatal care has been identified as a risk factor for maternal mortality and other adverse pregnancy outcomes. The purpose of this study was to determine the factors affecting attendance of antenatal care services in Nepal.

Methods:

This is a cross-sectional descriptive study carried out in Central Nepal. Using semi-structured questionnaire, interviews were conducted with married women aged between 15-49 years, who had delivered their babies within one year. Systematic random sampling method was used to select the sample. Results were obtained by frequency distribution and cross-tabulation of the variables.

Results:

More than half of the women were not aware of the consequences of lack of antenatal care. Age, education, income, type of family were strongly associated with the attendance at antenatal care service.

Conclusions and Public Health Implications:

In Nepal and in other developing countries, maternal mortality and morbidity continue to pose challenges to the health care delivery system. Variety of factors including socio-demographic, socio-economic, cultural and service availability as well as accessibility influences the use of maternal health services.

Keywords

Antenatal care
Maternal health services
Antenatal care services
Nepal

Background and Introduction

The maternal health care services that a mother receives during her pregnancy and at the time of delivery are important for the well being of the mother and her child. Antenatal care (ANC) is an essential component of maternal and child health services. Pregnancy-related complications are a leading cause of death among women in the reproductive ages in developing countries. Proper antenatal care check-up and delivery under safe and hygienic conditions can significantly lessen the risk of maternal morbidity and mortality as well as neonatal deaths. The importance of maternal health services in reducing maternal and infant morbidity and mortality has been emphasized in a number of studies[1,2,3].

The Government of Nepal has developed vari-ous policies and strategies to move towards the commitments to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 5. The maternal mortality trend derived from household surveys in 1996 and 2006 suggests that Nepal may achieve the MDG5 which aims at reducting in maternal mortality for a three-quarter by 2015. However, the related MDG indicator on the proportion of women who are receiving maternal health services during pregnancy is still low. Nearly 27% of pregnant women in Nepal are deprived of antenatal care by skilled provider and 15% received no antenatal care at all[4]. A comprehensive study that shows the relation between associated factors determining the actual attendance at antenatal care services is urgent. Hence this study was carried out to find out the factors affecting the utilization of antenatal care services.

Methods

This is a cross-sectional descriptive study carried out in Makawanpur district of Central Nepal. Makwanpur District, a part of Narayani Zone, is one of the 75 districts of Nepal. The district, with Hetauda as its district headquarters, has one Municipality and 43 Village Development Committee (VDCs). It covers an area of 2,426 km2. The total population of this district is 420,477 among which married women of reproductive age are 112,187[5]. A screening camp was organized to understand the prevalence of uterine prolapse in Makwanpur District. Data for ANC visit were collected from the women who visited the screening camp. No formal written ethical approval was obtained, however, verbal consent was obtained from each individual participant prior to interview.

Altogether, eight camps were conducted for 5 days in different parts of the district to understand the prevalence of uterine prolapsed women in that area. From the same screening camp, information on ANC coverage was collected from married women of reproductive age who had a live birth in the one year preceding the survey.

Initially, each screening camp was identified as a cluster. Then, all the women in the clusters were listed and numbers were given to those women who had delivered their babies within one year. Twenty seven samples were drawn from each cluster (random systematic). To begin with the sampling ratio, K/n (K=total population size/n=size of desired sam-ple) and the random start was identified. Then each sample was extracted by choosing every Kth entry. After taking an informed verbal consent, an interview was taken with the help of semi-structured questionnaire to collect all the required information.

The collected data were coded, entered into and analyzed with software SPSS version 16[6]. Results were obtained by the frequency distribution and cross-tabulation of the variables. Chi-square tests were performed to determine whether there were statistically significant associations between the antenatal visits and socio-demographic variables and other related indicators as well. The p value was set at <0.05 for statistical significance.

Result and Discussion

Awareness and Utilization of ANC Services. Like many other developing countries, a sizable population of women in Nepal lacks awareness of and few utilize ANC services. This study result shows that only l 04 women i.e., 47.7% attended at least one ANC service which was lower than the national average (58.3%). The percentage of pregnant women attending at least four ANC visits was found to be 30.7% which was lower than the national data available (50.1). The proportion of women receiving antenatal care from a skilled provider (24%) has more than doubled (58%) in the past 15 years[4]. The mean number of ANC services received by pregnant women was 3.8835 (SD 1.42) against 4, the recommended number of check-ups under safer motherhood program (see Table 1).

Table 1. Association Between Study Factors of Respondents and Ante Natal Care Visits
Indicators N % ANC Visit (N=216)
Frequency of ANC Visits (N=104)
p Value
No Yes p Value 1-3 visits ≥ 4 visits
Current age (Mean age -30.43 years; SD- 3.26 years)
Up to 25 20 9.3 25.0 75.0 p=.009 25.0 50.0 P=.004
26-30 83 38.4 48.2 51.8 12.0 39.8
Above 31 113 52.3 60.2 39.8 19.5 20.4
Ethnic group
Upper caste groups 62 28.7 33.9 66.1 p<.000 16.1 50.0 p<.000
Disadvantages Janajatis 99 45.8 67.7 32.3 12.1 20.2
Dalit 55 25.5 45.5 54.5 27.3 27.3
Religion
Hindu 109 50.5 55.0 45.0 p=.018 16.5 28.4 p=.024
Buddhist 76 35.2 57.9 42.1 18.4 23.7
Christian 31 14.4 29.0 71.0 16.1 54.8
Family type
Single 112 51.9 45.5 54.5 p=.038 12.5 27.9 P=0.81
Joint 104 48.1 59.6 40.4 21.4 33.0
Female Education
No education 71 32.9 74.6 25.4 p<.000 12.7 12.7 p<.000
Primary 79 36.6 58.2 41.8 7.6 34.2
Secondary 23 10.6 30.4 69.6 26.1 43.5
SLC above 43 19.9 16.3 83.7 37.2 46.5
Female occupation
Agriculture 147 68.1 65.3 34.7 p<.000 12.2 22.4 p<.000
Wage labor 7 3.2 42.9 57.1 0.0 57.1
Service 26 12.0 19.2 80.8 26.9 53.8
Housewife 36 16.7 25.0 75.0 33.3 41.7
Husband occupation
Agriculture 60 27.8 61.7 38.3 p= .052 13.3 25.0 p<.000
Wage labor 44 20.4 52.3 47.7 4.5 43.2
Service 66 30.6 51.5 48.5 21.2 27.3
Business 36 16.7 50.0 50.0 13.9 36.1
Foreign employment 10 4.6 10.0 90.0 80.0 10.0
Family income
Below 10000 123 56.9 74.8 25.2 p<.000 8.9 16.3 p<.000
10001-15000 66 30.6 30.3 69.7 24.2 45.5
Above 15001 27 12.5 3.7 96.3 37.0 59.3
Age at 1st pregnancy (Median age- 24 years; SD- 2.382 years)
Up to 20 12 5.6 83.3 16.7 p=.006 16.7 0.0 P<.000
21-25 152 70.4 48.0 52.0 13.8 38.2
26-30 45 20.8 64.4 35.6 22.2 13.3
Above 31 7 3.2 14.3 85.7 57.1 28.6
Parity (Mean child birth - 2.1667; SD- 0.69550)
1 31 14.4 32.3 67.7 p=.039 29.0 38.7 p=.04l
2 124 57.4 51.6 48.4 17.7 30.6
3 55 25.5 63.6 36.4 7.3 29.1
4 6 2.8 66.7 33.3 33.3 0.0
Place of delivery
Home 115 53.2 85.2 14.8 p<.000 13.9 0.9 p<.000
Health facility 101 46.8 14.9 85.1 20.8 64.4
Mass media exposure
Yes 121 56.0 41.3 58.7 p<.000 19.0 39.7 p=.001
No 95 44.0 66.3 33.7 14.7 18.9
Total 216 100 113 103 37 67
(52.3) (47.7) (17.0) (30.7)

* Numbers in the bracket indicates percentages

Age, Religion, Caste System and ANC Utilization. Younger women (≤25 years) are more likely to re-ceive antenatal care than older women (≥31) (Table 1). The relationship between age and the utilization of ANC services was found to be statistically signifi-cant. Women in lower age group were more like-ly to have ANC services for more than four times than the women in higher age group. As in a study by Swenson[7] women who were under the age of 30 were more likely to receive ANC services than were those over 30 years of age. Within ethnic group, dis-advantaged groups such as Janajatis like Magar, Rai, Tamang, Danuwar were less likely to receive ANC services than the Brahmin and Chetri. Upper caste groups like Brahmin, Chetri and Dalit women were more likely to complete the recommended number of ANC checkups than the women in disadvantaged janajatis. Similar to other studies[8,9,10,11] the relation-ship between ethnicity and ANC visits was found to be statistically significant. Within religion, Christians are more likely to go for ANC visits than the Hindus and Buddhists. Similar to this study, results from var-ious studies[8,11,12] show the significant association be-tween the religion and attendance of ANC services.

Education and ANC Services. There is a signifi-cant difference between the type of family and the attendance of ANC service. Nearly 55% of women living in nuclear family received antenatal care as compared with 40.4 % of women in joint family. But women living in joint families were more likely to attend regular ANC services than the women in single families. The use of antenatal care services gradually increases with an increase in mother's level of education. Women with higher education were twice more likely to receive antenatal care than women with no education. This means that education is a determining factor in the utilization of ANC services which is in contrast with the findings of Simkhada et al.[13]. As compared to those with higher education, women with lower education were more likely to attend irregular ANC services. Previous studies also have reported low maternal education as a predictor of ANC services[8,9,11,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22].

Occupation and ANC Services. There was a signifi-cant difference in the utilization of antenatal care services between the women engaged in service and the women in agriculture. Nearly 8l% women involved in service received antenatal care' com-pared with only 34.7% of women in agriculture. Women in waged labor and in service were more likely to attend regular ANC services than any other occupation which contrasts with the study result provided by Gubhaju[9] and Gill et al.[22] Akin to the study by Islam et al.[23] and Gebreselassie[24], in this study also significant association was observed when looking at the percentage of women receiving ANC service according to husband's occupation. Women in families with high income were three times more likely to receive ANC services than the women in the families with low income. Similar findings have been reported in previous studies[8,9,12,16,17,18,19,20,21,23,25] that women from less income are less ANC attendants than those of more income.

Parity and ANC Services. The relationship between age at first pregnancy and the utilization of ANC services was also found to be statistically significant. As the age at first pregnancy increases' the chances of receiving ANC services also increase. The pro-portion of women receiving ANC services among women with low age at first pregnancy was 16.7%. That figure increased to 85.7% when the age at first pregnancy increased to 31 years and above. Antenatal care is particularly related to birth order. Similarly, in this study also women with lower parity are more likely to receive ANC services in contrast to women with higher parity which is similar with the findings of various studies[10,12,13,14,26] that parity had a statistically significant effect on adequate attendance. This study results contradicts the findings by Onasoga et al.[21].

Exposure to Media and ANC Services. The relation between mass media exposure to the utilization of ANC services was found to be statistically significant. As the exposure to mass media increases the chances of attending ANC services also increases. Nearly two-third of women who are exposed to mass media used ANC services more often than did women with no exposure. (See Table 1)

Tetanus Toxoid, Iron Fortification and ANC Ser-vices. Out of 47.7 % women who attended ANC visit during their entire pregnancy, nearly 64 % of women make four or more antenatal care visits. More than two-thirds (71.8 %) of women received two or more doses of Tetanus Toxoid injections and 88.3 % re-ceived Iron tablets during their last pregnancy. Even all the women who attended ANC services do not receive all the doses of Tetanus Toxoid and iron tab-lets. Women who make more than 4 visits are more likely to have had Tetanus Toxoid injection and Iron tablets than the women who make less than three antenatal care visits. Among the women who receive ANC services about 93.9 % of them receive Teta-nus Toxoid injection. Similarly, among the women who attended ANC services less than 3 times or about 32.4% received Tetanus Toxoid and two-third (67.6%) received iron tablets. However, iron tab-lets were consumed by all the women who received ANC services four times or more. (See Table 2)

Table 2. Ante Natal Care Visits and Frequency Distribution of Women who Obtained Tetanus Toxoid and Iron/Folic Acid Tablets in Last Pregnancy
Frequency of ANC Visits Frequency Percentage Tetanus Toxiod % Within frequency of ANC Visits
Iron / Folic acid Tab % Within frequency of ANC Visits
Yes No P value Yes No P value
Less than 3 37 35.9 12(32.4) 25(67.6) p<.000 25(67.6) 12(32.4) p<.000
More than 4 66 64.1 62 (93.9) 4 (6.1) 66 (100) 0(0.0)
Total 103 100 74(71.8) 29(28.2) 91 (88.3) 12 (11.7)

* Numbers in the bracket indicate percentages

Place of Delivery and ANC Services. This study results depicts that still more than half percentage of births (53.2%) takes place at home and only 46.8 % of births take place in a health facility. The percentage of institutional delivery is higher than the national data (35.3%). Among the women who gave birth at health facility, 85.1% women received ANC services whereas 14.9 % did not receive such services. However 14.8 % women received ANC services even though they gave birth at home.

The report by Nepal Demographic and Health Survey[4] (NDHS) also reveals the trend of home delivery is higher than institutional delivery in Nepal. Pregnant women need to know about how to access a trained health personnel during delivery and this kind of information can be sought at the time of ANC visit. For this reason, ANC visit could influence the type of delivery.

About 17 % of the women delivered their babies at home even they attended ANC services. However, 1 3.3% women who did not receive any antenatal checkups delivered their babies in a health facility. Among the women who made less than 3 antenatal care visits during their entire pregnancy, 43.2% delivered their babies at home. Women who have had more than four visits to health facilities during pregnancy are more likely (98.5 %) to deliver their baby in health facility than the women who made less than three antenatal care visits (56.8%). Various studies show that ANC visit can help women to opt for institutional delivery. Previous studies[27,28,29] have shown that ANC promotes institutional delivery, similar finding was observed in this study area as well. Increase in ANC visit decreases the chances of home delivery. Among the women who receive ANC services more than four times, only 1.5 % delivered their babies at home. The frequency of ANC visits and place of delivery was statistically significant. (See Table 3)

Table 3. Ante Natal Care Visits and Place of Delivery
ANC Visits N % Home Delivery
Institutional Delivery
p value
N % within ANC visits N % within ANC visits
No 113 52.3 98 86.7 15 13.3
Yes 103 47.7 17 16.5 86 83.5
Frequency of ANC Visits p<.000
Less than 3 37 35.9 16 43.2 21 56.8
More than 4 66 64.1 1 1.5 65 98.5
Total 103 100.0 17 16.5 86 83.5

Conclusions and Public Health Implications

In spite of everything, more than half of the women were unaware of the benefits or consequences of antenatal care visits. Varieties of factors including socio-demographic, socio-economic, cultural and service availability as well as accessibility influence the use of maternal health services. The significance of the results of this study is that maternal age, maternal education, occupation of both parents, higher household economic status and type of family all increase probability of use of maternal health care services during pregnancy. It was found that higher levels of education were associated with greater use of antenatal care services. Significant difference was also observed between the religion and attendance of antenatal care services. The higher the income, the higher the attendance of ANC services was found among the respondents. Maternal mortality and morbidity in developing countries continue to pose challenges to the health care delivery system. In order to motivate pregnant women, husbands and other family members for the better health of mother and the child, extensive informative services regarding the importance of ANC services needs to be incorporated in public health intervention programs.

Declaration:

Parts of this paper was presented orally at the Global Maternal Health Conference 2013, Arusha, Tanzania from 15th -17th January, 2013.

Conflict of interest:

The author declares that she has no competing interests.

Funding:

None

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