Perinatal mortality is very high in Bangladesh. In this setting, few community-level studies have assessed the influence of underlying maternal health factors on perinatal outcomes. We used the data from a community-based clinical controlled trial conducted between 1994 and 1997 in the catchment areas of a large MCH/FP hospital located in Mirpur, a suburban area of Dhaka in Bangladesh, to investigate the levels of perinatal mortality and its associated maternal health factors during pregnancy.
A total of 2007 women were followed after recruitment up to delivery, maternal death, or until they dropped out of the study. Of these, 1584 who gave birth formed our study subjects. The stillbirth rate was 39.1 per 1000 births [95% confidence interval (CI) 39.0, 39.3] and the perinatal mortality rate (up to 3 days) was 54.3 per 1000 births [95% CI 54.0, 54.6] among the study population. In the fully adjusted logistic regression model, the risk of perinatal mortality was as high as 2.7 times [95% CI 1.5, 4.9] more likely for women with hypertensive disorders, 5.0 times [95% CI 2.3, 10.8] as high for women who had antepartum haemorrhage and 2.6 times [95% CI 1.2, 5.8] as high for women who had higher haemoglobin levels in pregnancy when compared with their counterparts. The inclusion of potential confounding variables such as poor obstetric history, sociodemographic characteristics and preterm delivery influenced only marginally the net effect of important maternal health factors associated with perinatal mortality.
Perinatal mortality in the study setting was significantly associated with poor maternal health conditions during pregnancy. The results of this study point towards the urgent need for monitoring complications in high-risk pregnancies, calling for the specific components of the safe motherhood programme interventions that are designed to manage these complications of pregnancy.