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Open Access Highly Accessed Commentary

Antenatal care packages with reduced visits and perinatal mortality: a secondary analysis of the WHO antenatal care trial - Comentary: routine antenatal visits for healthy pregnant women do make a difference

G Justus Hofmeyr1* and Ellen D Hodnett2

Author Affiliations

1 Effective Care Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand/Fort Hare, Eastern Cape Department of Health, Eastern Cape, South Africa

2 Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

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Reproductive Health 2013, 10:20  doi:10.1186/1742-4755-10-20

Published: 12 April 2013

Abstract

The practice and timing of routine antenatal visits for healthy pregnant women, introduced arbitrarily and without evidence of effectiveness, have become entrenched in obstetric practice over the last century. In 2001 the large, cluster randomized WHO Antenatal Care Trial concluded that a goal-orientated package of antenatal care with reduced visits seemed not to affect maternal and perinatal outcomes. The reduced visit package has been implemented in several countries. The current re-analysis finds that the significantly increased perinatal mortality which occurred in the reduced visit package persists after adjustment for potential confounding factors. The WHO Antenatal Care Trial provided the first evidence from a randomized trial that the traditional high frequency of routine visits in the third trimester may well reduce perinatal mortality.