Background: Pregnancy-related vital registration is important to inform policy to reduce maternal, fetal and newborn mortality, yet few systems for capturing accurate data are available in low-middle income countries where the majority of the mortality occurs. Furthermore, methods to effectively implement high-quality registration systems have not been described. The goal of creating the registry described in this paper was to inform public health policy makers about pregnancy outcomes in our district so that appropriate interventions to improve these outcomes could be undertaken and to position the district to be a leader in pregnancy-related public health research.
Methods: We created a prospective maternal and newborn health registry in Belgaum, Karnataka State, India. To initiate this registry, we worked with the Ministry of Health to first establish estimated birth rates and define the catchment areas of the clusters, working within the existing health system and primary health centers. We also undertook household surveys to identify women likely to become pregnant. We then implemented monitoring measures to ensure high quality and completeness of the maternal newborn health registry. All pregnant women in the catchment area were identified, consented and enrolled during pregnancy, with follow-up visits to ascertain pregnancy outcomes and mother/infant status at 42-days postpartum.
Results: From 2008 through 2014, we demonstrated continued improvements in both the coverage for enrollment and accuracy of reporting pregnancy outcomes within the defined catchment area in Belgaum, India. Nearly 100% of women enrolled had follow-up at birth and 99% had 42-day follow-up. Furthermore, we facilitated earlier enrollment of women during pregnancy while achieving more timely follow-up and decreased time of reporting from the date of the pregnancy event.
Conclusions: We created a pregnancy-related registry which includes demographic data, risk factors, and outcomes allowing for high rates of ascertainment and follow-up while working within the existing health system. Understanding the elements of the system used to create the registry is important to improve the quality of the results. Tracking of pregnancies and their outcomes is an important step toward reducing maternal and perinatal mortality.