Antenatal care (ANC) is a major public health intervention aimed at ensuring safe pregnancy outcomes. In Nigeria, the recommended minimum of four times ANC attendance is underutilized. This study investigates the prevalence and factors associated with underutilization of ANC services with a focus on the differences between rural and urban residences in Nigeria.
We analyzed the 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey dataset with adjustment for the sampling weight and the cluster design of the survey. The prevalence of underutilization of ANC was assessed using frequency tabulation while associated factors were examined using Chi-Square test and multivariable logistic regression analysis.
The prevalence of underutilization of ANC was 46.5% in Nigeria, 61.1% in rural residence and 22.4% in urban residence. The North-West region had the highest prevalence of ANC underuse in Nigeria at 69.3%, 76.6% and 44.8% for the overall, rural and urban residences respectively. Factors associated with greater odds of ANC underuse in rural residence were maternal non-working status, birth interval < 24 months, single birth type, not listening to radio at all, lack of companionship to health facility and not getting money for health services. In urban residence, mothers professing Islam, those who did not read newspaper at all, and those who lacked health insurance, had greater odds of ANC underuse. In both rural and urban residence, maternal and husband’s education level, region of residence, wealth index, maternal age, frequency of watching television, distance to- and permission to visit health facility were significantly associated with ANC underuse.
Rural-urban differences exist in the use of ANC services, and to varying degrees, factors associated with underuse of ANC in Nigeria. Interventions aimed at addressing factors identified in this study may help to improve the utilization of ANC services both in rural and urban Nigeria. Such interventions need to focus more on reducing socioeconomic, geographic and regional disparities in access to ANC in Nigeria.