• caste;
  • Hindu;
  • rural;
  • India;
  • maternal health care services

The objective of this study was to examine the association between caste and maternal health care service use among rural Hindu women in India. We analyzed data from the Morbidity and Performance Assessment, a population-based cross-sectional study, for 482 Hindu women who were pregnant during January 1998 to January 1999 in Maitha, Uttar Pradesh, India. Maternal health care service use among both upper and lower caste women was very low. Upper caste women were almost three times more likely to use antenatal care (odds ratio [OR] = 2.72; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.40–5.30), tetanus toxoid (OR = 2.50; 95% CI, 1.48–4.21), and contraceptives (OR = 2.66; 95% CI, 1.28–5.54) and almost five times (OR = 4.77; 95% CI, 1.81–12.54) more likely to have a trained birth attendant compared to the lower caste women. Caste was a significant determinant of tetanus toxoid use and trained birth attendant even after adjusting for sociodemographic factors. Besides caste, maternal literacy was the one sociodemographic factor that was significantly associated with the use of all maternal health care services. Information dissemination and awareness generation can improve the use of subsidized maternal health care services among women of all caste groups.