Effect of Postnatal Home Visits on Maternal/Infant Outcomes in Syria: A Randomized Controlled Trial


Hyam N. Bashour, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Damascus University, PO Box 9241, Damascus, Syria. E-mail: hbashour@scs-net.org

ABSTRACT Objective:

Early postpartum home visiting is universal in many Western countries. Studies from developing countries on the effects of home visits are rare. In Syria, where the postpartum period is rather ignored, this study aimed to assess whether a community-based intervention of postnatal home visits has an effect on maternal postpartum morbidities; infant morbidity; uptake of postpartum care; use of contraceptive methods; and on selected neonatal health practices.

Design: A randomized controlled trial was carried out in Damascus. Three groups of new mothers were randomly allocated to receive either 4 postnatal home visits (A), one visit (B), or no visit (C).

Sample: A total of 876 women were allocated and followed up.

Intervention: Registered midwives with special training made a one or a series of home visits providing information, educating, and supporting women.

Results: A significantly higher proportion of mothers in Groups A and B reported exclusively breastfeeding their infants (28.5% and 30%, respectively) as compared with Group C (20%), who received no visits. There were no reported differences between groups in other outcomes.

Conclusions: While postpartum home visits significantly increased exclusive breastfeeding, other outcomes did not change. Further studies framed in a nonbiomedical context are needed. Other innovative approaches to improve postnatal care in Syria are needed.