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ItemThe effect of antenatal care on professional assistance at delivery in rural India(Springer Netherlands, 2008-06)Delivering births in a medical institution or at home with professional medical assistance has been shown to promote safe motherhood and child survival. Yet three-quarters of births in rural India continue to take place at home, most of them without the assistance of any trained health worker. This study examines the role of antenatal care (ANC) in promoting professional assistance at delivery, using data from India’s 1992–93 and 1998–99 National Family Health Surveys (NFHS-1 and NFHS-2). We estimate the effect of number of antenatal care visits (0, 1–2, 3+) on professional assistance at delivery (no assistance, professional assistance at home, delivery in a medical institution), using multinomial logistic regression, controlling for demographic, geographic, and socioeconomic factors, pregnancy complications, and two measures of access to health facilities. The results indicate that, after controlling for other variables (including ANC), pregnancy complications and access to health facilities do not have much effect on assistance at delivery. By contrast, ANC has a large effect, even after all other variables are controlled. The effect of ANC on professional assistance at delivery is larger in South India than in North India, and predicted percentages receiving professional assistance are higher in South India than in North India. A policy implication is that increased antenatal care coverage can be an effective means of increasing professional assistance at delivery, especially delivery in a medical institution.