Perinatal mortality and maternal health in rural China

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dc.contributor Helsingin yliopisto, lääketieteellinen tiedekunta, Hjelt-instituutti fi
dc.contributor Helsingfors universitet, medicinska fakulteten, Hjelt-institutet sv
dc.contributor University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Hjelt Institute en
dc.contributor National Institute for Health and Welfare en Wu, Zhuochun fi 2011-05-27T07:20:51Z 2011-06-12 fi 2011-05-27T07:20:51Z 2011-06-22 fi
dc.identifier.uri URN:ISBN:978-952-10-7006-8 fi
dc.description.abstract Background and context Since the economic reforms of 1978, China has been acclaimed as a remarkable economy, achieving 9% annual growth per head for more than 25 years. However, China's health sector has not fared well. The population health gains slowed down and health disparities increased. In the field of health and health care, significant progress in maternal care has been achieved. However, there still remain important disparities between the urban and rural areas and among the rural areas in terms of economic development. The excess female infant deaths and the rapidly increasing sex ratio at birth in the last decade aroused serious concerns among policy makers and scholars. Decentralization of the government administration and health sector reform impacts maternal care. Many studies using census data have been conducted to explore the determinants of a high sex ratio at birth, but no agreement has been so far reached on the possible contributing factors. No study using family planning system data has been conducted to explore perinatal mortality and sex ratio at birth and only few studies have examined the impact of the decentralization of government and health sector reforms on the provision and organization of maternal care in rural China. Objectives The general objective of this study was to investigate the state of perinatal health and maternal care and their determinants in rural China under the historic context of major socioeconomic reforms and the one child family planning policy. The specific objectives of the study included: 1) to study pregnancy outcomes and perinatal health and their correlates in a rural Chinese county; 2) to examine the issue of sex ratio at birth and its determinants in a rural Chinese county; 3) to explore the patterns of provision, utilization, and content of maternal care in a rural Chinese county; 4) to investigate the changes in the use of maternal care in China from 1991 to 2003. Materials and Methods This study is based on a project for evaluating the prenatal care programme in Dingyuan county in 1999-2003, Anhui province, China and a nationwide household health survey to describe the changes in maternal care utilization. The approaches used included a retrospective cohort study, cross sectional interview surveys, informant interviews, observations and the use of statistical data. The data sources included the following: 1) A cohort of pregnant women followed from pregnancy up to 7 days after birth in 20 townships in the study county, collecting information on pregnancy outcomes using family planning records; 2) A questionnaire interview survey given to women who gave birth between 2001 and 2003; 3) Various statistical and informant surveys data collected from the study county; 4) Three national household health interview survey data sets (1993-2003) were utilized, and reanalyzed to described the changes in maternity care utilization. Relative risks (RR) and their confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for comparison between parity, approval status, infant sex and township groups. The chi-square test was used to analyse the disparity of use of maternal care between and within urban and rural areas and its trend across the years in China. Logistic regression was used to analyse the factors associated with hospital delivery in rural areas. Results There were 3697 pregnancies in the study cohort, resulting in 3092 live births in a total population of 299463 in the 20 study townships during 1999-2000. The average age at pregnancy in the cohort was 25.9 years. Of the women, 61% were childless, 38% already had one child and 0.3% had two children before the current pregnancy. About 90% of approved pregnancies ended in a live birth while 73% of the unapproved ones were aborted. The perinatal mortality rate was 69 per thousand births. If the 30 induced abortions in which the gestational age was more than 28 weeks had been counted as perinatal deaths, the perinatal mortality rate would have been as high as 78 per thousand. The perinatal mortality rate was negatively associated with the wealth of the township. Approximately two thirds of the perinatal deaths occurred in the early neonatal period. Both the still birth rate and the early neonatal death rate increased with parity. The risk of a stillbirth in a second pregnancy was almost four times that for a first pregnancy, while the risk of early neonatal deaths doubled. The early neonatal mortality rate was twice as high for female as for male infants. The sex difference in the early neonatal mortality rate was mainly attributable to mortality in second births. The male early neonatal mortality rate was not affected by parity, while the female early neonatal mortality rate increased dramatically with parity: it was about six times higher for second births than for first births. About 82% early neonatal deaths happened within 24 hours after birth, and during that time, girls were almost three times more likely to die than boys. The death rate of females on the day of birth increased much more sharply with parity than that of males. The total sex ratio at birth of 3697 registered pregnancies was 152 males to 100 females, with 118 and 287 in first and second pregnancies, respectively. Among unapproved pregnancies, there were almost 5 live-born boys for each girl. Most prenatal and delivery care was to be taken care of in township hospitals. At the village level, there were small private clinics. There was no limitation period for the provision of prenatal and postnatal care by private practitioners. They were not permitted to provide delivery care by the county health bureau, but as some 12% of all births occurred either at home or at private clinics; some village health workers might have been involved. The county level hospitals served as the referral centers for the township hospitals in the county. However, there was no formal regulation or guideline on how the referral system should work. Whether or not a woman was referred to a higher level hospital depended on the individual midwife's professional judgment and on the clients' compliance. The county health bureau had little power over township hospitals, because township hospitals had in the decentralization process become directly accountable to the township government. In the township and county hospitals only 10-20% of the recurrent costs were funded by local government (the township hospital was funded by the township government and the county hospital was funded by the county government) and the hospitals collected user fees to balance their budgets. Also the staff salaries depended on fee incomes by the hospital. The hospitals could define the user charges themselves. Prenatal care consultations were however free in most township hospitals. None of the midwives made postnatal home visits, because of low profit of these services. The three national household health survey data showed that the proportion of women receiving their first prenatal visit within 12 weeks increased greatly from the early to middle 1990s in all areas except for large cities. The increase was much larger in the rural areas, reducing the urban-rural difference from more than 4 times to about 1.4 times. The proportion of women that received antenatal care visits meeting the Ministry of Health s standard (at least 5 times) in the rural areas increased sharply from 12% in 1991-1993 to 36% in 2001-2003. In rural areas, the proportion increase was much faster in less developed areas than in developed areas. The hospital delivery rate increased slightly from 90% to 94% in urban areas while the proportion increased from 27% to 69% in rural areas. The fastest change was found to be in type 4 rural areas, where the utilization even quadrupled. The overall difference between rural and urban areas was substantially narrowed over the period. Multiple logistic regression analysis shows that time periods, residency in rural or urban areas, income levels, age group, education levels, delivery history, occupation, health insurance and distance from the nearest health care facilities were significantly associated with hospital delivery rates. Conclusions 1. Perinatal mortality in this study was much higher than that for urban areas as well as any reported rate from specific studies in rural areas of China. Previous studies in which calculations of infant mortality were not based on epidemiological surveys have been shown to underestimate the rates by more than 50%. 2. Routine statistics collected by the Chinese family planning system proved to be a reliable data source for studying perinatal health, including still births, neonatal deaths, sex ratio at birth and among newborns. National Household Health Survey data proved to be a useful and reliable data source for studying population health and health services. Prior to this research there were few studies in these areas available to international audiences. 3.Though perinatal mortality rate was negatively associated with the level of township economic development, the excess female early neonatal mortality rate contributed much more to high perinatal mortality rate than economic factors. This was likely a result of the role of the family planning policy and the traditional preferences for sons, which leads to lethal neglect of female newborns and high perinatal mortality. 4. The selective abortions of female foetuses were likely to contribute most to the high sex ratio at birth. The underreporting of female births seemed to have played a secondary role. The higher early neonatal mortality rate in second-born as compared to first-born children, particularly in females, may indicate that neglect or poorer care of female newborn infants also contributes to the high sex ratio at birth or among newborns. Existing family planning policy proved not to effectively control the steadily increased birth sex ratio. 5. The rural-urban gap in service utilization was on average significantly narrowed in terms of maternal healthcare in China from 1991 to 2003. This demonstrates that significant achievements in reducing inequities can be made through a combination of socio-economic development and targeted investments in improving health services, including infrastructure, staff capacities, and subsidies to reduce the costs of service utilization for the poorest. However, the huge gap which persisted among cities of different size and within different types of rural areas indicated the need for further efforts to support the poorest areas. 6. Hospital delivery care in the study county was better accepted by women because most of women think delivery care was very important while prenatal and postnatal care were not. Hospital delivery care was more systematically provided and promoted than prenatal and postnatal care by township hospital in the study area. The reliance of hospital staff income on user fees gave the hospitals an incentive to put more emphasis on revenue generating activities such as delivery care instead of prenatal and postnatal care, since delivery care generated much profits than prenatal and postnatal care . Recommendations 1. It is essential for the central government to re-assess and modify existing family planning policies. In order to keep national sex balance, the existing practice of one couple one child in urban areas and at-least-one-son a couple in rural areas should be gradually changed to a two-children-a-couple policy throughout the country. The government should establish a favourable social security policy for couples, especially for rural couples who have only daughters, with particular emphasis on their pension and medical care insurance, combined with an educational campaign for equal rights for boys and girls in society. 2. There is currently no routine vital-statistics registration system in rural China. Using the findings of this study, the central government could set up a routine vital-statistics registration system using family planning routine work records, which could be used by policy makers and researchers. 3. It is possible for the central and provincial government to invest more in the less developed and poor rural areas to increase the access of pregnant women in these areas to maternal care services. Central government together with local government should gradually provide free maternal care including prenatal and postnatal as well as delivery care to the women in poor and less developed rural areas. 4. Future research could be done to explore if county and the township level health care sector and the family planning system could be merged to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of maternal and child care. 5. Future research could be done to explore the relative contribution of maternal care, economic development and family planning policy on perinatal and child health using prospective cohort studies and community based randomized trials. Key words: perinatal health, perinatal mortality, stillbirth, neonatal death, sex selective abortion, sex ratio at birth, family planning, son preference, maternal care, prenatal care, postnatal care, equity, China en
dc.description.abstract Äitiyshuolto ja perinataaliterveys Kiinan maaseudulla Viimeisen 25 vuoden aikana Kiinan talouskasvu on ollut nopeata. Mutta samanaikaisesti tuloerot maaseudun ja kaupunkien välillä ovat lisääntyneet. Äitiyshuollossa palvelujen käytön eriarvoisuus, vastasyntyneiden vino sukupuolijakauma ja ero tyttö- ja poikavauvojen kuolleisuudessa ovat herättäneet huolta. Tässä työssä tutkittiin sukupuolijakaumaa ja vastasyntyneisyysajan kuolleisuutta ja äitiyspalveluja Kiinan maaseudulla. Lähes 4000 vuosina 1999 2000 raskaaksi tullutta naista seurattiin väestösuunnittelukeskuksen tilastojen avulla. Vastasyntyneissä oli 152 poikaa 100 tyttöä kohden; ensimmäisissä lapsissa oli 118 poikaa ja toisena syntyneistä lapsista 287 poikaa 100 tyttöä kohden. Tärkein syy tähän epäluonnolliseen löydökseen oli tyttösikiöiden abortointi. Perinataalimortaliteetti (kuolemat ennen synnytystä ja ensimmäisen viikon aikana) oli 69 kuolemaa 1000 synnytystä kohti; tämä on paljon suurempi kuin aiemmat arviot, jotka lienevät aliarvioineet kuolleisuutta. Kuolleisuus lisääntyi äidin lapsiluvun mukaan ja se oli paljon korkeampi tytöillä kuin pojilla; molemmat löydökset ovat erisuuntaiset kuin Suomessa. Tyttöjen ylimääräinen kuolleisuus nosti perinataalikuolleisuutta enemmän kuin asuinalueen varallisuus. Tutkimusalueella äitiyshuollosta vastasi "kunta" (noin 10 000 asukkaan hallinnollinen yksikkö, township). Läänitason sairaaloita käytettiin lähetesairaaloina, mutta lähetekäytäntöä ei oltu ohjeistettu. Terveydenhuolto oli hajautettu ja kunnan sairaaloista vastasi paikallishallinto. Vain 10 20% sairaaloiden kustannuksista tuli verovaroista ja sairaalat keräsivät potilasmaksuja vastatakseen kustannuksista. Henkilökunnan palkka riippui sairaalan tuloista. Terveysneuvonta raskauden aikana oli ilmaista, mutta naiset maksoivat itse kaikesta muusta. (Synnytyksiä korvaava sairausvakuutus tuli käytäntöön vasta tutkimusajankohdan jälkeen). Kustannussyistä kätilöt eivät tehneet synnytyksen jälkeisiä kotikäyntejä. Kansallisten väestökyselyjen mukaan maaseudulla äitiyspalveluihin tulo raskauden aikaisessa vaiheessa (<12viiikkoa) oli sitä yleisempää mitä vauraampi alue oli. Aikainen tulo lisääntyi kaikilla alueilla voimakkaasti 1991 2003 ja ero eri alueiden välillä pieneni. Monta käyntiä tehneiden äitien määrä lisääntyi vastaavasti; koko maaseudulla 5 tai enemmän käyntiä tehneiden äitien osuus lisääntyi 12 %:sta 36 %:iin. Sairaalasynnytysten osuus nousi 27 %:sta 69 %:iin. Suhteellisesti suurimmat muutokset olivat vähiten kehittyneillä alueilla. Erot maaseudun ja kaupunkien välillä vähenivät. fi
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf fi
dc.language.iso en fi
dc.publisher Helsingin yliopisto fi
dc.publisher Helsingfors universitet sv
dc.publisher University of Helsinki en
dc.relation.isformatof URN:ISBN:978-952-10-7005-1 fi
dc.relation.isformatof Helsinki , Finland: 2011 fi
dc.rights Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty. fi
dc.rights This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for Your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited. en
dc.rights Publikationen är skyddad av upphovsrätten. Den får läsas och skrivas ut för personligt bruk. Användning i kommersiellt syfte är förbjuden. sv
dc.subject kansanterveystiede fi
dc.title Perinatal mortality and maternal health in rural China en
dc.title.alternative Äitiyshuolto ja perinataaliterveys Kiinan maaseudulla fi
dc.type.ontasot Väitöskirja (artikkeli) fi
dc.type.ontasot Doctoral dissertation (article-based) en
dc.type.ontasot Doktorsavhandling (sammanläggning) sv
dc.ths Hemminki, Elina fi
dc.ths Tang, Shenglan fi
dc.opn Ashorn, per fi
dc.type.dcmitype Text fi

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