Author(s): AlNahedh N
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Abstract OBJECTIVES: Studies have shown that good antenatal care is associated with favorable outcome for both mothers and children. However, there are several factors that influence the utilization of such care even when available. The objective of this paper is to examine maternal demographic variables that influence antenatal care and the desire of mothers to consult a physician when their children aged below two are ill. METHODS: This is a cross-sectional study of women living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. From a map of residential areas, a multi-stage sampling approach was employed to select a random sample of houses. All women with children aged less than two years were included in a house- to- house survey. A structured questionnaire was used for data collection. Epi-Info was used for statistical analysis. RESULTS: Results show that 96.6\% of the mothers had at least one antenatal care visit, while 80.9\% had had more than six visits. Delivery under medical supervision was reported by 97.8\% of the sample. The use of antenatal care and the number of visits were statistically significantly associated with age, education and marital status. The last two variables were also statistically significantly associated with the place of delivery. Nearly 83\% of the mothers reported one or two illnesses in their children within the last two weeks. About 90.5\% of these mothers consulted a physician on the illness and there was a 12.4\% severe morbidity rate as evidenced by hospital admission. Physician consultation was statistically significantly associated with nationality, education and the occupation of the mother p<0.05. Hospital admission was also statistically significantly associated with age, nationality and occupation of the mother p<0.05. The commonest illness in the children in the last two weeks was diarrhea (34.3\%) followed by fever (33.4\%) and breathing difficulties (16\%), although the highest frequency of episodes of illness was diarrhea and fever. Nevertheless, breathing difficulties followed closely by ear infection constituted the two highest prevalences among children who were brought for medical consultation (94.4\% and 93.3\% respectively). CONCLUSION: The study shows a higher proportion of mothers attending antenatal care than has been previously reported for the country. The pattern of reported children's illnesses reflects what has been previously seen from hospital studies. It also shows a high rate of physician consultation. This is probably due to the extensive coverage of free government health services in Riyadh. It will be worthwhile to document other socio-demographic variables affecting health seeking behavior of mothers in other parts of the country. There is a need to educate young illiterate mothers in sound child rearing practices. This will help minimize the distress of childhood diseases.
This article was published in J Family Community Med
and referenced in Alternative & Integrative Medicine
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