Adequate antenatal care and ethnicity affect preterm birth in pregnant women living in the tropical rainforest of Suriname

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Background: Adequate antenatal care (ANC) services are key for early identification of pregnancy related risk factors and maintaining women’s health during pregnancy. This study aimed to assess the influence of ANC provided by the Medical Mission Primary Health Care Suriname (MMPHCS) and of ethnicity on adverse birth outcomes in Tribal and Indigenous women living in Suriname’s remote tropical rainforest interior. Method: From April 2017 to December 2018 eligible Tribal and Indigenous women with a singleton pregnancy that received ANC from MMPHCS were included in the study. Data on low birth weight (LBW < 2500 g), preterm birth (PTB < 37 weeks), low Apgar score (< 7 at 5 min), parity (≤1 vs. > 1) and antenatal visits utilization (≥8 vs. < 8) in 15 interior communities were retrospectively analyzed using descriptive statistics, crosstabs and Fisher’s exact tests. Results: A total of 204 women were included, 100 (49%) were Tribal, mean age was 26 ± 7.2 years and 126 women (62%) had 8 or more ANC visits. One participant had a miscarriage; 22% had adverse birth outcomes: 16 (7.9%) LBW and 30 (14.8%) PTB; 7 women had a child with both PTB and LBW; 5 women had stillbirths. None of the newborns had low Apgar scores. Maternal age, ethnicity, ANC and parity were associated with PTB (χ2 = 8,75, p = 0.003, χ2 = 4,97, p = 0.025, χ2 = 17,45, p < 0.001, χ2 = 11,93, p < 0.001 respectively). Conclusion: Despite an almost 100% study adherence over one fifth of women that received ANC in the interior of Suriname had adverse birth outcomes, in particular PTB and LBW. Younger nulliparous Indigenous women with less than the recommended 8 ANC visits had a higher risk for PTB. The rate of adverse birth outcomes highlights the need for further research to better assess factors influencing perinatal outcomes and to put strategies in place to improve perinatal outcomes. Exposure assessment of this sub-cohort and neurodevelopment testing of their children is ongoing and will further inform on potential adverse health effects associated with environmental exposures including heavy metals such as mercury and lead.




Baldewsingh, G. K., Jubitana, B. C., van Eer, E. D., Shankar, A., Hindori-Mohangoo, A. D., Covert, H. H., … Zijlmans, C. W. R. (2020). Adequate antenatal care and ethnicity affect preterm birth in pregnant women living in the tropical rainforest of Suriname. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 20(1).

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