Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
SILVA, Antônio Augusto Moura da; GOMES, Uilho Antônio; TONIAL, Sueli Rosina and SILVA, Raimundo Antonio da. Coverage of pediatric care and associated factors in São Luís, Maranhão, Brazil. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.6, n.4, pp. 266-272. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891999000900006.
Pediatric care is fundamental to preventing several diseases during the early years of childhood. Early medical care and having at least nine checkups in the first year of life are the ideal in pediatric care. It is essential to periodically assess whether or not these goals are being met. In 1994, a cross-sectional study was carried out using three-stage cluster sampling to measure coverage of pediatric care and factors associated with that care among children in the city of São Luís, in the state of Maranhão, Brazil. For data collection, a standardized questionnaire was used with the mother of the child or another person responsible for the child. The percentage of those refusing to participate or who were absent was 7%. This work analyzes data concerning 290 children between 1 and 23 months of age. The coverage estimates and 95% confidence intervals took into consideration possible effects of the study design. Cox's regression, modified for cross-sectional studies, was used to estimate adjusted relative risks. Pediatric care coverage for the population studied was 80%. The children had an average of 7.8 checkups in the first year; 44% of the children had six or fewer checkups during the first year of life, well below the recommended number. Eighty-one percent of the children were seen in the Brazilian public health care system (Sistema Único de Saúde, SUS), and only 15% used health insurance. After adjusting for confounding factors, the factors "greater number of siblings at home" and "father with four or fewer years of schooling" were associated with not having checkups. After adjustment, family income was not associated with the number of checkups. Encouraging educational activities and perhaps also family planning programs are important strategies for increasing the coverage of pediatric care in the city of São Luís.