Determinants of frequency and contents of antenatal care visits in Bangladesh: Assessing the extent of compliance with the WHO recommendations

M. Mazharul Islam, Mohammad Shahed Masud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Background In addition to the number of antenatal care (ANC) visits, the items of ANC services covered by ANC visits greatly influence the effectiveness of the ANC services. Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended not only to achieve a minimum of eight ANC visits, but also to use a core set of items of ANC services for safe motherhood. This study examined the levels and determinants of frequency and contents of ANC visits in Bangladesh and thus assessed the level of compliance with the WHO recommended number and the content of ANC services during pregnancy in Bangladesh. Methods The data for the study come from the 2014 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS), which covereda nationally representative sample of 17,863 ever-married women aged 15±49 years. Data derived from 4,627 mothers who gave birth in the three years preceding the survey constituted the study subjects. Descriptive, inferential and multivariate statistical techniques were used for data analysis. Results On average, mothers received less than three (2.7 visits) ANC visits and only 6% receive the recommended eight or more ANC visits. About 22% of the mothers received all the prescribed basic items of ANC services. About one-fifth (21%) of the mothers never received ANC visits and thus no items of ANC services. Measurement of blood pressure was the most common item received during ANC visit as reported by 69% mothers. Blood test was the least received item (43%). Significant positive association was found between frequency of ANC visits and receiving the increased number of items of ANC services. High socio-economic status, low parity, living in urban areas and certain administrative regions, planned pregnancies, having media exposure, visiting skilled providers for ANC services and visit to public or NGO health facilities are associated with frequent ANC visits and receiving higher number of items of ANC contents. Conclusion An unsatisfactory level of coverage of and content of ANC visits have been observed in Bangladesh. Further investigation is needed to identify the causes of under-utilization of ANC services in Bangladesh. A greater understanding of the identified risk factors and incorporating them into short and long term strategies would help improve the coverage and contents and thus quality of ANC services in Bangladesh.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0204752
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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