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Maternal Autonomy and Low Birth Weight in India.
Authors: Chakraborty, Priyanka; Anderson, Alex K.
Source: Journal of Women’s Health, Sep2011, Vol. 20 Issue 9, p1373-1382, 10p, DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2428
Topic(s): Birth weight
Women's health
Country: Asia
  India
Published: SEP 2011
Abstract: Abstract: Background: The prevalence of low birth weight (LBW) is a major public health issue in India (30.0%) and is the highest among South-Asian countries. Maternal autonomy or the mother's status in the household indicates her decision-making power with respect to movement, finance, healthcare use, and other household activities. Evidence suggests that autonomy of the mother is significantly associated with the child's nutritional status. Although previous studies in India reported the determinants of LBW, literature on the association between mother's autonomy and birth weight are lacking. This study, therefore, aims to examine the influence of maternal autonomy on birth weight of the newborn. Methods: The study, a secondary data analysis, examined data from the 2005-2006 National Health and Family Survey (NFHS 3) of India. A maternal autonomy score was created through proximal component factor analysis and categorized as high, medium, and low autonomy levels. The main outcome variable included birth weight of the index child obtained from health cards and mother's recall. Descriptive and logistic regression analyses were performed. Results: Results from the study indicate that 20.0% of the index children included in the analysis were born at LBW. Low maternal autonomy was an independent predictor of LBW (odds ratio [OR] 1.28, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07-1.53, p=0.007) after adjusting for other factors, and medium autonomy level was not significant. Conclusions: These findings clearly indicate the importance of empowering women in India to combat the high incidence of LBW. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]