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Predictors of perinatal mortality in Liberia’s post-civil unrest: A comparative analysis of the 2013 and 2019–2020 Liberia Demographic and Health Surveys
Authors: Munawar Harun Koray and Tanya Curry
Source: BMJ Open, Volume 14; issue 2; DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2023-080661
Topic(s): Perinatal mortality
Country: Africa
Published: FEB 2024
Abstract: Introduction: Perinatal mortality remains a pressing concern, especially in lower and middle-income nations. Globally, 1 in 72 babies are stillborn. Despite advancements, the 2030 targets are challenging, notably in sub-Saharan Africa. Post-war Liberia saw a 14% spike in perinatal mortality between 2013 and 2020, indicating the urgency for in-depth study. Objective: The study aims to investigate the predictors of perinatal mortality in Liberia using 2013 and 2019–2020 Liberia Demographic and Health Survey datasets. Methods: In a two-stage cluster design from the Liberia Demographic and Health Survey, 6572 and 5285 respondents were analysed for 2013 and 2019–2020, respectively. Data included women aged 15–49 with pregnancy histories. Descriptive statistics was used to analyse the sociodemographic characteristics, the exposure to media and the maternal health services. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regressions were used to examine the predictors of perinatal mortality at a significance level of p value =0.05 and 95% CI. The data analysis was conducted in STATA V.14. Results: Perinatal mortality rates increased from 30.23 per 1000 births in 2013 to 42.05 in 2019–2020. In 2013, increasing age of respondents showed a reduced risk of perinatal mortality rate. In both years, having one to three children significantly reduced mortality risk (2013: adjusted OR (aOR) 0.30, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.64; 2019: aOR 0.24, 95% CI 0.11 to 0.54), compared with not having a child. Weekly radio listenership increased mortality risk (2013: aOR 1.36, 95% CI 0.99 to 1.89; 2019: aOR 1.86, 95% CI 1.35 to 2.57) compared with not listening at all. Longer pregnancy intervals (p<0.0001) and receiving 2+ tetanus injections (p=0.019) were protective across both periods. However, iron supplementation showed varied effects, reducing risk in 2013 (aOR 0.90, 95% CI 0.48 to 1.68) but increasing it in 2019 (aOR 2.10, 95% CI 0.90 to 4.92). Conclusion: The study reports an alarming increase in Liberia’s perinatal mortality from 2013 to 2019–2020. The findings show dynamic risk factors necessitating adaptable healthcare approaches, particularly during antenatal care. These adaptable approaches are crucial for refining health strategies in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, with emphasis on the integration of health, education, gender equality, sustainable livelihoods and global partnerships for effective health outcomes.