Birth interval and pregnancy outcome

East Afr Med J. 1996 Aug;73(8):552-5.


A cross-sectional study was conducted from September to March 1993 at maternity ward of Jimma Hospital to asses the pattern and determinants of birth interval and the role of contraceptive in influencing the length of birth interval. The information was collected by use of pre-tested questionnaire from 415 mothers by three midwives trained for this purpose. The variables examined were: information on parity, use of contraceptive methods during the preceding birth intervals, breast feeding and some demographic variables such as age, martial status, education. Pregnancy outcome variables such as, live births, stillbirths, abortion and infant deaths. Slightly over seventy five per cent of the study subjects were aged 20-29 years, 59% and 27% were para 2-3 and 4-5 respectively. In more than 81% of the subjects, the birth interval was less than three years with a mean birth interval of 22.1 months. Approximately two per cent used contraceptive when the birth interval was 12 months and less. Stillbirth and early neonatal deaths accounted for 3.2% and 6.9% respectively. Based on the findings, we underscore the importance of birth spacing using the available family planning methods to promote safe motherhood and achieve better child survival.

PIP: This study examines pregnancy outcomes and the patterns of birth intervals and their determinants, particularly contraceptive usage, among 415 women who delivered at Jimma Hospital during September 1992 to March 1993 in Ethiopia. Midwives interviewed mothers regarding age, marital status, income, education, parity, contraceptive usage, duration of breast feeding, and pregnancy outcomes. The sample of 415 mothers reported 2009 pregnancies and 1594 birth intervals. 9.2% of the women were single, 88.5% were married, and 2.3% were divorced or separated. 50.2% were illiterate and 42.4% had some elementary schooling. 12.9% were aged under 20 years and 75.4% were aged 20-29 years. 59.0% had a parity of 2-3 and 27% had a parity of 4-5. 81% of birth intervals were under 36 months; the mean interval was 22.1 months. 13.2% of birth intervals were under 12 months, 68% of birth intervals were 13-36 months, and 45.9% of birth intervals were under 24 months. 32.2% of intervals under 12 months resulted in spontaneous abortion and 13.2% of 12-24 month intervals resulted in spontaneous abortion. The stillbirth rate was 3.2%, and the neonatal death rate in the first week of life was 6.9% among birth intervals under 12 months. 42.3% of birth intervals under 12 months resulted in pregnancy wastage: abortion, stillbirth, or neonatal mortality. The proportion of pregnancy wastage declined with an increased birth interval. 32.5% of mothers used contraception. 1.9% of birth intervals under 12 months and 17% of 13-36 month birth intervals were found among contracepting mothers. 89.5% of mothers exclusively breast-fed for 4-6 months, of whom 31.3% had a return to menstruation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Intervals*
  • Contraception
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors