Mothers’ recognition of newborn danger signs and health seeking behaviour

  • BA Alex-Hart
  • DA Dotimi
  • PI Opara
Keywords: Cryptosporidiosis, diarrhoea, under-five, children


Background: Early recognition of neonatal illnesses followed by  care-seeking and intervention are key factors in improving neonatal health and survival.

Objectives: To assess mothers’ ability to recognize newborn danger
signs and actions taken by mothers in the event of neonatal illness.

Methods: The study was carried out in three health centres in Yenagoa Metropolis from April to May 2011. A 15 itemed Questionnaire based on the WHO/UNICEF IMCI programme handbook was administered to 146 mothers with infants younger than three months. The mothers were asked to identify danger signs of neonatal illness from a list of symptoms, to indicate which of the listed symptoms their babies experienced, to state what actions were taken in response to the symptoms and reasons for not
utilizing orthodox healthcare.

Results: None of the listed symptoms was recognized by up to half
the mothers as danger signs of neonatal illness, the best being fast breathing by 66 (45.2%) mothers. Eighty two (56.2%) mothers reported
that their children experienced some of the neonatal danger signs: the commonest were difficult breathing and convulsions in 8 (9.8%) cases each. Unconsciousness and excessive crying were thought to be caused by evil spirits and consultations sought with faith healers. The major constraint to utilization of health facilities was cost {45(29.8%)}.

Conclusion: Mothers’ recognition of danger signs in the newborn was poor. Self-medication and the use of home remedies delayed timely  consultation. The commonest reason for non-utilization of health facilities was lack of money.

Keywords: Mothers, Newborns, Danger signs, Recognition, Health seeking.


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eISSN: 0302-4660