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PLOS ONE  2013 

Socioeconomic Disparities in Maternity Care among Indian Adolescents, 1990–2006

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069094

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Background India, with a population of more than 1.21 billion, has the highest maternal mortality in the world (estimated to be 56000 in 2010); and adolescent (aged 15–19) mortality shares 9% of total maternal deaths. Addressing the maternity care needs of adolescents may have considerable ramifications for achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG)–5. This paper assesses the socioeconomic differentials in accessing full antenatal care and professional attendance at delivery by adolescent mothers (aged 15–19) in India during 1990–2006. Methods and Findings Data from three rounds of the National Family Health Survey of India conducted during 1992–93, 1998–99, and 2005–06 were analyzed. The Cochran-Armitage and Chi-squared test for linear and non-linear time trends were applied, respectively, to understand the trend in the proportion of adolescent mothers utilizing select maternity care services during 1990–2006. Using pooled multivariate logistic regression models, the probability of select maternal healthcare utilization among women by key socioeconomic characteristics was appraised. After adjusting for potential socio-demographic and economic characteristics, the likelihood of adolescents accessing full antenatal care increased by only 4% from 1990 to 2006. However, the probability of adolescent women availing themselves of professional attendance at delivery increased by 79% during the same period. The study also highlights the desolate disparities in maternity care services among adolescents across the most and the least favoured groups. Conclusion Maternal care interventions in India need focused programs for rural, uneducated, poor adolescent women so that they can avail themselves of measures to delay child bearing, and for better antenatal consultation and delivery care in case of pregnancy. This study strongly advocates the promotion of a comprehensive ‘adolescent scheme’ along the lines of ‘Continuum of Maternal, Newborn and Child health Care’ to address the unmet need of reproductive and maternal healthcare services among adolescent women in India.


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