On studying the pregnancy outcomes in two rural areas of Odisha, researchers found that poor sanitation practices, such as open defecation, are affecting pregnancy outcomes of Indian women, especially premature birth.
Bijaya K. Padhi from the Asian Institute of Public Health, Bhubaneswar, and colleagues enrolled 670 women during the first trimester of their pregnancy. The research team recorded information about toilet access and sanitation practices for each woman at enrollment, and followed them through pregnancy until birth. They observed that compared with women who used a latrine, women who defecated in the open had a significantly greater risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes overall and preterm birth, but not low birth weight.
Senior study author Pinaki Panigrahi from the University of Nebraska in the US said, "This study indicates that in the context of maternal and child health prevention research, sanitation is an important dimension of women's health and distinct from social class and caste."
The study is published in the PLOS Medicine