Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Antenatal Care and Maternal Health

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Antenatal Care and Maternal Health

Article excerpt

Maternal mortality level is the health indicator that exhibits the greatest difference between developing and industrialized countries. For example, in Africa the lifetime risk of death for a woman as a result of pregnancy or childbirth has been estimated to be 1 in 23, compared with only about 1 in 10 000 in northern Europe. Family planning methods and delivery services offer some scope for reducing this difference. However, the potential of antenatal care to reduce maternal mortality or serious morbidity in developing countries has not been systematically assessed, despite widespread belief that such care could improve maternal health.

As a first step in a proposed programme to explore this potential, a 74-page review of the effectiveness of antenatal interventions in relation to the poor maternal health in developing countries has been prepared on behalf of the WHO Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood Programme.(b) The report draws together available information on how antenatal care could be used to reduce maternal mortality and serious morbidity in areas where levels are currently high.

Outlined in the report are various interventions that are effective in detecting, treating, or preventing conditions in pregnant women that may give rise to serious morbidity or mortality. These relate mainly to chronic conditions such as anaemia, hypertension, and infections in pregnancy rather than to acute conditions such as haemorrhage or obstructed labour, which occur close to the time of delivery. …

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