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BU School of Public Health finds simple interventions reduce newborn deaths in Africa
Date:2/3/2011

Training community birth attendants in rural Zambia in a simple newborn resuscitation protocol reduced neonatal deaths by nearly 50 percent a finding that shows high potential to save lives in similar remote settings, a team of Boston University School of Public Health [BUSPH] international health researchers is reporting.

Findings published Feb. 3 in the BMJ by the team from the BU Center for Global Health and Development show that training and equipping Zambian traditional birth attendants to perform a neonatal resuscitation intervention led to a net reduction of about 18 deaths per 1,000 live births in the first 28 days of life a significant reduction in the overall neonatal mortality rate in Zambia, of about 34 deaths per 1,000 live births.

"We essentially showed that there is a method, very simple and inexpensive, to reduce neonatal mortality by about half," said Dr. Christopher Gill, associate professor of international health at BUSPH and lead author on the study. "This is the first high-quality study, using a randomized control methodology, to show unambiguously that a neonatal resuscitation protocol can be used to save lives. It's hugely encouraging."

The study, dubbed "LUNESP" for the Lufwanyama Neonatal Survival Project, was a large-scale trial in the rural Lufwanyama district of Zambia, where access to healthcare facilities is extremely limited. Researchers worked with Zambian traditional birth attendants community members who attend to villagers' births to gauge the impact of a package of neonatal interventions.

Birth attendants were divided into two groups one which used the existing standard-of-care in attending to deliveries, and the other that received extra training aimed at preventing neonatal hypothermia and birth asphyxia. Globally, at least 10 percent of otherwise healthy newborns experience inadequate respiration at birth, a problem often compounded by hypothermia from failure to immediat
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Contact: Lisa Chedekel
chedekel@bu.edu
617-414-1401
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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