Background: While progress has been made in reducing neonatal mortality in Guatemala, stillbirth and maternal mortality rates remain high, especially among the indigenous populations, which have among the highest adverse pregnancy-related mortality rates in Guatemala.
Methods: We conducted a prospective study in the Western Highlands of Guatemala from 2010 through 2013, enrolling women during pregnancy with follow-up through 42-days postpartum. All pregnant women were identified and enrolled by study staff in the clusters in the Chimaltenango region for which we had 4 years of data. Enrolment usually occurred during the antenatal period; women were also visited following delivery and 42-days postpartum to collect outcomes. Measures of antenatal and delivery care were also obtained.
Results: Approximately four thousand women were enrolled annually (3,869 in 2010 to 4,570 in 2013). The stillbirth rate decreased significantly, from 22.0 per 1000 births (95% CI 16.6, 29.0) in 2010 to 16.7 (95% CI 13.5, 20.6) in 2013 (p-value 0.0223). The perinatal mortality rate decreased from 43.9 per 1,000 births (95% CI 36.0, 53.6) to 31.6 (95% CI 27.2, 36.7) (p-value 0.0003). The 28-day neonatal mortality rate decreased from 28.9 per 1000 live births (95% CI 25.2, 33.2) to 21.7 (95% CI 17.5, 26.9), p-value 0.0004. The maternal mortality rate was 134 per 100,000 in 2010 vs. 113 per 100,000 in 2013. Over the same period, hospital birth rates increased from 30.0 to 50.3%.
Conclusions: In a relatively short time period, significant improvements in neonatal, fetal and perinatal mortality were noted in an area of Guatemala with a history of poor pregnancy outcomes. These changes were temporally related to major increases in hospital-based delivery with skilled birth attendants, as well as improvements in the quality of delivery care, neonatal care, and prenatal care.