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J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2013 Feb;24(1):152-70. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2013.0032.

Awareness of critical danger signs of pregnancy and delivery, preparations for delivery, and utilization of skilled birth attendants in Nigeria.

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Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, Department of Population and Family Health, 60 Haven Avenue, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Maternal mortality in northern Nigeria is among the highest in the world. To understand better the pathways through which the socio-demographic environment affects awareness of obstetric danger signs (i.e., potential problems associated with pregnancy), preparations for delivery, and skilled birth attendance, we conducted a survey of 5,083 women with recent pregnancies in three northern Nigerian states. Only 25% attended antenatal care (ANC), and 91% of all births took place at home. Less than one-third knew three or more danger signs of pregnancy or labor and delivery. Higher socioeconomic status was associated with knowledge of danger signs, but not with knowledge of life-threatening, critical danger signs. Antenatal care visits did not increase knowledge of critical danger signs, but they were associated with skilled birth attendance. Knowledge of critical pregnancy danger signs also was associated with skilled birth attendance. Improving the quality and coverage of ANC will ensure greater awareness of the critical danger signs. Future research is needed to identify creative and innovative ways to strengthen strategies for educating pregnant women about danger signs and in facilitating uptake of delivery services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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