Home birth and hospital birth trends in Bo, Sierra Leone

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As of April 2010, all maternity care at government healthcare facilities in Sierra Leone is provided at no cost to patients. In late 2010, we conducted a community health census of 18 sections of the city of Bo (selected via randomized cluster sampling from 68 total sections). Among the 3421 women with a history of pregnancy who participated in the study, older women most often reported having a history of both home and hospital deliveries, while younger women showed a preference for hospital births. The proportion of lastborn children delivered at a healthcare facility increased from 71.8% of offspring 10–14 years old to 81.1% of those one to nine years old and 87.3% of infants born after April 2010. These findings suggest that the new maternal healthcare initiative has accelerated an existing trend toward a preference for healthcare facility births, at least in some urban parts of Sierra Leone.