Reducing Stillbirths By Up to One Million? -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

Reducing Stillbirths By Up to One Million?

Photo: Girl in Africa with baby on its back

An educational package for birth
attendants might make a huge
difference; © SXC

Ninety-eight percent of the 3.7 million neonatal deaths and 3.3 million stillbirths each year occur in developing countries. This project was designed to train birth attendants, including doctors, midwives, nurses and traditional birth attendants, in communities and hospitals in 96 communities worldwide.

"The birth attendants were trained to do several easy steps that are critical for babies to survive at birth and be kept alive through the first week of life," said lead author Waldemar Carlo. "We selected the World Health Organization course on essential newborn care because it contains what we believed are the essential interventions necessary to sustain life in many infants and created an educational package that included interventions that could be used by any birth attendant anywhere in the world."

Using the train-the-trainer model, local instructors trained birth attendants from rural communities in Argentina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, India, Pakistan and Zambia. They used the World Health Organization (WHO) newborn-care course and a modified version of the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program.

The goal was to see if training birth attendants to use these interventions would reduce perinatal and neonatal mortality in the first week of life in infants weighing at least 1500 grams in rural communities in developing countries.

The stillbirth rate decreased significantly for nurses and midwives and traditional birth attendants following essential newborn care training. The stillbirth rate also decreased among home deliveries. There was not a significant decrease in all-cause first week mortality or stillbirth for those using the in-depth neonatal resuscitation program. "A package of essential newborn-care interventions, if implemented worldwide, might decrease perinatal deaths by about one million per year," Carlo said.; Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham