Background: Coupled with the largest number of maternal deaths, adolescent pregnancy in India has received paramount importance due to early age at marriage and low contraceptive use. The factors associated with the utilization of maternal healthcare services among married adolescents in rural India are poorly discussed.
Methodology/principal findings: Using the data from third wave of National Family Health Survey (2005-06), available in public domain for the use by researchers, this paper examines the factors associated with the utilization of maternal healthcare services among married adolescent women (aged 15-19 years) in rural India. Three components of maternal healthcare service utilization were measured: full antenatal care, safe delivery, and postnatal care within 42 days of delivery for the women who gave births in the last five years preceding the survey. Considering the framework on causes of maternal mortality proposed by Thaddeus and Maine (1994), selected socioeconomic, demographic, and cultural factors influencing outcome events were included as the predictor variables. Bi-variate analyses including chi-square test to determine the difference in proportion, and logistic regression to understand the net effect of predictor variables on selected outcomes were applied. Findings indicate the significant differences in the use of selected maternal healthcare utilization by educational attainment, economic status and region of residence. Muslim women, and women belonged to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes are less likely to avail safe delivery services. Additionally, adolescent women from the southern region utilizing the highest maternal healthcare services than the other regions.
Conclusions: The present study documents several socioeconomic and cultural factors affecting the utilization of maternal healthcare services among rural adolescent women in India. The ongoing healthcare programs should start targeting household with married adolescent women belonging to poor and specific sub-groups of the population in rural areas to address the unmet need for maternal healthcare service utilization.