Background: Malaria in pregnancy is a critical public health challenge, and intermittent preventive treatment for malaria during pregnancy (IPTp) has proven to be an effective intervention. However, access to and use of malaria interventions, including IPTp, remains a considerable problem among African women. This cross-sectional study investigated factors, including antenatal care (ANC) attendance (both numbers of visits and timing of the first visit) and socio-demographics, associated with the uptake of the recommended IPTp dose among Malawian women. Methods: A nationally representative sample of women with a live birth in the 2 years preceding the survey from the Malawi Demographic Health Survey 2015-2016 dataset was analysed. Self-reported data on socio-demographics, ANC attendance and IPTp uptake were collected using a questionnaire and analysed using logistic models. Results: Of the 6549 included women, 1981 (30.2%) took the recommended three or more IPTp doses. Despite inadequate ANC visits, early ANC initiation increased the likelihood of these women taking the recommended IPTp dose; women who initiated ANC in the first [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 2.24; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.44-3.49] and second (aOR = 2.19; 95% CI = 1.56-3.08) trimesters were more likely to take the recommended IPTp dose compared to late initiators. The effect of the number of ANC visits on IPTp uptake was significant in married women (aOR = 1.68, 95% CI = 1.42-1.98), and the timing of first ANC visit was associated with IPTp uptake only among rural women (aOR = 2.13, 95% CI = 1.54-2.95). Conclusion: ANC attendance is vital in IPTp uptake. The results highlight the need for health care providers to encourage women, particularly those in high-risk groups, to make frequent ANC visits and receive early ANC initiation to ensure high coverage of the recommended IPTp dose.
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