Are Rural Women Aware of Obstetric Danger Signs? A Cross-Sectional Study among Newly Delivered Mothers in 17 Villages under Two Subcenters of Sarjapur PHC, South Karnataka, India

Niresh Chandran, C K Rishmitharoy, Avita Rose Johnson, T Sulekha, K Rajitha


 Background: Awareness of obstetric danger signs reduces delays in seeking care and forms a crucial part of birth preparedness and complication readiness (BPCR), an evidence-based strategy to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality. Objective: The objective of the study was to assess awareness of obstetric danger signs and its determinants among rural women in South Karnataka. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study in 17 villages of South Karnataka was conducted, with simple random sample of 100 mothers who delivered in the past 1 year. Awareness of 18 obstetric danger signs by JHPIEGO-BPCR Tools and Indicators was assessed under four domains: Pregnancy, labor, postpartum, and newborn period. Each correct response given a score of 1. Mann–Whitney U-test, Kruskal–Wallis test, and Spearman’s rank correlation test done. Results: Median awareness score was 4 (IQR = 1.6) with 24% of subjects unable to state even one danger sign across any domain. The most common danger sign mentioned was vaginal bleeding. Most were unaware of danger signs such as blurred vision and convulsions. Awareness was significantly higher among older (P = 0.019) and educated mothers (P = 0.044), of higher income (P = 0.041), with more frequent antenatal care (ANC) visits (P = 0.001), and higher parity (P = 0.013). Conclusion: The abysmally low awareness of obstetric danger signs has far-reaching public health implications as it affects timely care seeking. Health-care providers should use opportunities during regular ANC visits to counsel women and families regarding danger signs, in addition to community engagement, utilizing existing platforms such as women’s groups, village-level workers, and Village Health and Nutrition Days, focusing more on younger women who are educationally and economically challenged to improve awareness regarding obstetric danger signs.

Key words: Birth preparedness, complication readiness, danger signs, rural women

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