Family socio-demographic factors and maternal obstetric factors influencing appropriate health-care seeking behaviours for newborn jaundice in Sagamu, Nigeria

Matern Child Health J. 2012 Apr;16(3):677-84. doi: 10.1007/s10995-011-0765-1.


Poor care-seeking behaviour of families may be responsible for the high prevalence of complications of newborn jaundice in the developing world. To examine the influence of family socio-demographic characteristics and maternal obstetric factors on health care-seeking behaviours for newborn jaundice and the inter-relationship between this behavior and severity of newborn jaundice. Mothers whose babies were referred to a Nigerian tertiary hospital with jaundice were studied in a cross-sectional survey for appropriate health-care seeking behaviours as well as the need for exchange transfusion and the occurrence of kernicterus in their babies. Out of 182 mother-baby pairs, 127 (69.8%) mothers recognized jaundice in their infants, 34.1% delayed care for ≥48 h, 40.6% sought medical care in orthodox health facilities while 20.9% did not seek care outside the home. In all, 61.5% mothers administered various medications to jaundiced babies. Appropriate health care-seeking behaviours were recorded among 28.6% mothers. Low maternal education had a significant relationship with delayed health care-seeking and the use of home remedies for newborn jaundice. A significantly higher proportion of babies who had home remedies had delayed care. Delayed care for ≥48 h was also significantly associated with high Total Serum Bilirubin on admission, higher requirement for exchange transfusion and higher occurrence of kernicterus. Intensive health education of families may help improve their health care-seeking behaviours for neonatal jaundice.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / diagnosis*
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / epidemiology
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / therapy
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Mothers* / education
  • Mothers* / psychology
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Bilirubin