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Association between maternal high-risk fertility behaviour and perinatal mortality in Bangladesh: Evidence from the Demographic and Health Survey
Authors: Nuruzzaman Khan and Melissa L. Harris
Source: PLOS ONE , Volume 18, Issue 11; DOI:
Topic(s): Childhood mortality
Maternal mortality
Country: Asia
Published: NOV 2023
Abstract: Background High-risk fertility behaviours including pregnancy early or late in the reproductive life course, higher parity and short birth intervals are ongoing concerns in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) such as Bangladesh. Although such factors have been identified as major risk factors for perinatal mortality, there has been a lack of progress in the area despite the implementation of the Millennium and Sustatinable Development Goals. We therefore explored the effects of high-risk maternal fertility behaviour on the occurrence of perinatal mortality in Bangladesh. Methods A total of 8,930 singleton pregnancies of seven or more months gestation were extracted from 2017/18 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey for analysis. Perinatal mortality was the outcome variable (yes, no) and the primary exposure variable was high-risk fertility behaviour in the previous five years (yes, no). The association between the exposure and outcome variable was determined using a mixed-effect multilevel logistic regression model, adjusted for covariates. Results Forty-six percent of the total births that occurred in the five years preceding the survey were high-risk. After adjusting for potential confounders, a 1.87 times (aOR, 1.87, 95% CI, 1.61–2.14) higher odds of perinatal mortality was found among women with any high-risk fertility behaviour as compared to women having no high-risk fertility behaviours. The odds of perinatal mortality were also found to increase in line with an increasing number of high-risk behaviour. A 1.77 times (95% CI, 1.50–2.05) increase in odds of perinatal mortality was found among women with single high-risk fertility behaviour and a 2.30 times (95% CI, 1.96–2.64) increase in odds was found among women with multiple high-risk fertility behaviours compared to women with no high-risk fertility behaviour. Conclusion Women’s high-risk fertility behaviour is an important predictor of perinatal mortality in Bangladesh. Increased contraceptive use to allow appropriate birth spacing, educational interventions around the potential risks associated with high risk fertility behaviour (including short birth interval) in future pregnacies, and improved continuity of maternal healthcare service use among this population are required to improve birth outcomes in Bangladesh.