BMC Health Services Research (2020-01-01)

Errors in estimated gestational ages reduce the likelihood of health facility deliveries: results from an observational cohort study in Zanzibar

  • Isabel Fulcher,
  • Kaya Hedt,
  • Stella Marealle,
  • Jalia Tibaijuka,
  • Omar Abdalla,
  • Rachel Hofmann,
  • Erica Layer,
  • Marc Mitchell,
  • Bethany Hedt-Gauthier

DOI
https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-020-4904-5
Journal volume & issue
Vol. 20, no. 1
pp. 1 – 10

Abstract

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Abstract Background Most maternal health programs in low- and middle- income countries estimate gestational age to provide appropriate antenatal care at the correct times throughout the pregnancy. Although various gestational dating methods have been validated in research studies, the performance of these methods has not been evaluated on a larger scale, such as within health systems. The objective of this research was to investigate the magnitude and impact of errors in estimated delivery dates on health facility delivery among women enrolled in a maternal health program in Zanzibar. Methods This study included 4225 women who were enrolled in the Safer Deliveries program and delivered before May 31, 2017. The exposure of interest was error in estimated delivery date categorized as: severe overestimate, when estimated delivery date (EDD) was 36 days or more after the actual delivery date (ADD); moderate overestimate, when EDD was 15 to 35 days after ADD; accurate, when EDD was 6 days before to 14 days after ADD; and underestimate, when EDD was 7 days or more before ADD. We used Chi-squared tests to identify factors associated with errors in estimated delivery dates. We performed logistic regression to assess the impact of errors in estimated delivery dates on health facility delivery adjusting for age, district of residence, HIV status, and occurrence of past home delivery. Results In our data, 28% of the estimated delivery dates were a severe overestimate, 23% moderate overestimate, 41% accurate, and 8% underestimate. Compared to women with an accurate delivery date, women with a moderate or severe overestimate were significantly less likely to deliver in a health facility (OR = 0.71, 95% CI: [0.59, 0.86]; OR = 0.74, 95% CI: [0.61, 0.91]). When adjusting for multiple confounders, women with moderate overestimates were significantly less likely to deliver in a health facility (AOR = 0.76, 95% CI: [0.61, 0.93]); the result moved slightly towards null for women with severe overestimates (AOR = 0.84, 95% CI: [0.69, 1.03]). Conclusions The overestimation of women’s EDDs reduces the likelihood of health facility delivery. To address this, maternal health programs should improve estimation of EDD or attempt to curb the effect of these errors within their programs.

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