Background: A substantial reduction in neonatal deaths is required in India to meet the Millennium Development Goal of a two-thirds reduction in child mortality by 2015. We report neonatal mortality estimates and utilisation of maternal care in the Indian state of Bihar.
Methods: A representative population-based sample of 14,293 women who had a live birth in the last 12 months based on multistage sampling from all 38 districts of Bihar was selected for interview in early 2012. We estimated neonatal mortality rate and its associations using multiple logistic regression, assessed maternal care coverage and its inequality by wealth index, and retention of mothers in the health system for the full sequence of maternal care services.
Results: Neonatal mortality rate for Bihar was 32.2 (95% confidence interval [CI] 27.6-36.8) per 1,000 live births. Postnatal care related variables were significantly associated with neonatal deaths - no delayed bathing of new born (odds ratio [OR] 3.45, 95% CI 2.47-4.81) and no kangaroo care immediately after birth (OR 2.20, 95% CI 1.49-3.25). History of maternal complications and delivery in a private sector health facility had nearly twice the odds of neonatal death; the latter was driven by the very high neonatal mortality associated with private facility delivery in the lower two wealth index quartiles. A pattern of mass deprivation was seen for coverage of 4 or more ANC visits, health facility delivery and postnatal care for the same woman, with only 5.2% of women receiving this overall; this coverage was low for the highest wealth index quartile as well at 12.2%. Coverage of 4 or more ANC visits was 7.4% and 27.7% in the lowest and the highest wealth quartiles, respectively. Giving birth in a health facility was reported by 49.5% of women in the lowest wealth index quartile and by 77.7% in the highest quartile. Only 21.2% women reported post-natal care within 2 weeks of delivery in the lowest wealth index quartile, and 42.2% in the highest quartile.
Conclusions: Neonatal mortality continues to be relatively high in Bihar, and the utilization of maternal care very low and inequitable. Interventions need to address these deficiencies.