Journal Article Effectiveness of home visits in pregnancy as a public health measure to improve birth outcomes

Ichikawa, Kayoko  ,  Fujiwara, Takeo  ,  Nakayama, Takeo

10 ( 9 ) 2015-09-08 , Public Library of Science
Background: Birth outcomes, such as preterm birth, low birth weight (LBW), and small for gestational age (SGA), are crucial indicators of child development and health. Purpose: To evaluate whether home visits from public health nurses for high-risk pregnant women prevent adverse birth outcomes. Methods: In this quasi-experimental cohort study in Kyoto city, Japan, high-risk pregnant women were defined as teenage girls (range 14-19 years old), women with a twin pregnancy, women who registered their pregnancy late, had a physical or mental illness, were of single marital status, non-Japanese women who were not fluent in Japanese, or elderly primiparas. We collected data from all high-risk pregnant women at pregnancy registration interviews held at a public health centers between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2012, as well as birth outcomes when delivered from the Maternal and Child Health Handbook (N = 964), which is a record of prenatal check-ups, delivery, child development and vaccinations. Of these women, 622 women were selected based on the home-visit program propensity score-matched sample (pair of N = 311) and included in the analysis. Data were analyzed between January and June 2014. Results: In the propensity score-matched sample, women who received the home-visit program had lower odds of preterm birth (odds ratio [OR], 0.62; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.39 to 0.98) and showed a 0.55-week difference in gestational age (95% CI: 0.18 to 0.92) compared to the matched controlled sample. Although the program did not prevent LBW and SGA, children born to mothers who received the program showed an increase in birth weight by 107.8 g (95% CI: 27.0 to 188.5). Conclusion: Home visits by public health nurses for high-risk pregnant women in Japan might be effective in preventing preterm birth, but not SGA.

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