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21-03-2010 | Gynaecology | Article

Women’s support groups improve birth outcomes in rural areas


Journal abstracts

MedWire News: Results from two studies suggest that women’s community support groups can improve birth outcomes and maternal depression rates, provided the programs are appropriately designed and population coverage is adequate.

In the first study, Prasanta Tripathy (Chakradharpur, Jharkhand, India) and colleagues conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial to assess the impact of participatory women’s groups on birth outcomes in a rural population of 228,186.

Analysis of 19,030 births over a 3-year period revealed that neonatal mortality was 32 percent lower for women participating in the groups versus usual care. In addition, the rate of maternal depression was 57 percent lower in the third year of the study in intervention clusters versus usual care.

“The most likely mechanism of mortality reduction was through improved hygiene and care practices,” the authors remark.

In the second study, Kishwar Azad (Diabetic Association of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh) and team assessed the effect of scaling-up the intervention, employing a cluster-randomized controlled trial design in a population of 503,163.

Analysis of 36,113 births over 3 years found no difference in neonatal mortality rates between women assigned to intervention and control groups.

The authors conclude: “For participatory women's groups to have a significant effect on neonatal mortality in rural Bangladesh, detailed attention to program design and contextual factors, enhanced population coverage, and increased enrolment of newly pregnant women might be needed.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Joanna Lyford