Background: Despite the increased burden of preterm birth and its complications, the dearth of care seeking data for preterm newborns remains a significant knowledge gap. Among preterm babies in rural Bangladesh, we examined: 1) determinants and patterns of care seeking, and 2) risk analysis for care-seeking from qualified and unqualified providers. Method: Trained community health workers collected data prospectively from 27,460 mother-liveborn baby pairs, including 6,090 preterm babies, between June 2007 and September 2009. Statistical analyses included binomial and multinomial logistic regressions. Results: Only one-fifth (19.7%) of preterm newborns were taken to seek either preventive or curative health care. Among care-seeker preterm newborns, preferred providers included homeopathic practitioners (50.0%), and less than a third (30.9%) sought care from qualified providers. Care-seeking from either unqualified or qualified providers was significantly lower for female preterm babies, compared to male babies [Relative Risk Ratio (RRR) for unqualified care: 0.68; 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.58, 0.80; RRR for qualified care: 0.52; 95% CI: 0.41, 0.66]. Among preterm babies, care-seeking was significantly higher among caregivers who recognized symptoms of illness [RR: 2.14; 95% CI: 1.93, 2.38] or signs of local infection (RR: 2.53; 95% CI: 2.23, 2.87), had a history of child death [RR: 1.21; 95% CI: 1.07, 1.37], any antenatal care (ANC) visit [RR: 1.41; 95% CI: 1.25, 1.59]. Birth preparedness (RRR: 1.24; 95% CI: 1.09, 1.68) and any ANC visit (RRR: 1.73; 95% CI: 1.50, 2.49) were also associated with increased likelihood of care seeking for preterm babies from qualified providers. Conclusion: To improve care seeking practices for preterm babies and referral of sick newborns to qualified providers/facilities, we recommend: 1) involving community-preferred health care providers in community-based health education and awareness raising programs; 2) integrating postnatal care seeking messages into antenatal counselling; and 3) further research on care seeking practices for preterm babies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy