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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2010

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India


Nearly a quarter of the world's neonatal deaths take place in India. The state of Uttar Pradesh alone accounts for one-quarter of all neonatal deaths in the country. In this study 892 married women aged less than 50 years living in a peri-urban area of Kanpur city in Uttar Pradesh were interviewed. In all, 109 women reported neonatal deaths. Characteristics of the last neonatal deaths of these 109 women were compared with those of the last surviving children. Also, characteristics of women who had a neonatal death were compared with those of 783 women who had no neonatal death. It was found that as compared with neonatal deaths, the last surviving children of the 109 women had: (a) significantly better antenatal tests during pregnancy, intake of iron/folic acid tablets and higher percentage of tetanus toxoid immunization; (b) safer delivery practices such as a higher percentage of institutional delivery, sterilization of instruments and application of antiseptic after removal of umbilical cord; (c) postnatal care, such as application of antiseptic to the navel and postnatal checkups; and (d) higher maternal age and greater birth spacing. Likewise, better antenatal care and safer delivery practices and postnatal care were observed among the 783 women with no neonatal deaths, when compared with women who had experienced neonatal death. The complexities of inter- and intra-household differences in health care are discussed. The paper concludes that to improve child survival general education and awareness regarding safe delivery should be increased. Continuing cultural stigmas and misconceptions about birth practices before, during and after childbirth should be an important part of the awareness campaigns.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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