The effectiveness of antenatal education of Pakistani and Indian women living in this country

Authors

  • G. McENERY,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Paediatrics, Whipps Cross Hospital and Waltham Forest Health District, London
      Dr G. McEnery, Department of Paediatrics, Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, London Ell.
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  • K. P. S. RAO

    1. Department of Paediatrics, Whipps Cross Hospital and Waltham Forest Health District, London
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Dr G. McEnery, Department of Paediatrics, Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, London Ell.

Abstract

Summary Eighty-two Asian women (mostly Muslims) living in East London were prospectively studied through their pregnancy and delivery. Their infants were assessed during the second year of life for growth, nutrition, morbidity, development and vaccination history. There was no increase in perinatal or infant mortality over the general population in the same borough, though there was increased infant morbidity, most commonly iron deficiency (in 25%), and one child with subclinical rickets. One child had a genetic neurodegenerative disorder. The incidence of low birth weight babies was only slightly greater than that of the district as a whole, but after 1 year of age they were less well grown than the population studied by Tanner & Whitehouse. Sixty-four per cent of the women started to breast feed, but many also gave artificial milk and they usually ceased to breast feed earlier than most women in the same district. When half of the women were randomly allocated to receive specialized education, with the others acting as controls, very few attended and little benefit was detected. Though the significance is doubtful, the infants of those educated did tend to be better grown (especially in length), be less likely to have development well below average, have reduced morbidity and have more complete immunization schedules than those of the women not receiving education. This study shows no benefit due to antenatal education, but suggests that the children have advantages when their mothers have the drive to attend the education sessions.

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