Strategies to reduce perinatal and neonatal mortality

Singh, Meharban ; Paul, V. K. (1988) Strategies to reduce perinatal and neonatal mortality Indian Paediatrics, 25 (6). pp. 499-509. ISSN 0019-6061

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The perinatal mortality rate in India averages 66.3/1000 live births. 60% of all infant deaths occur during the 1st month, making the neonatal mortality rate 76/1000 in rural areas and 39/1000 in urban areas. These rates have remained static since 1974. Over 90% of all deliveries occur at home and are conducted by untrained birth attendants. The major causes of perinatal deaths are immaturity/low birth weight, birth asphyxia/trauma, neonatal infections, and congenital malformations. Neonatal tetanus alone is responsible for 230,000-280,000 deaths a year. Hypoxia, low birth weight, and tetanus are preventable, if primary perinatal care is provided and high-risk pregnancies are recognized and referred to facilities where fetal monitoring and neonatal care are available. It is proposed to train all of the country's 5 million traditional birth attendants by 1990 to deliver primary perinatal care. By 1990 also there will be 1 village health guide for every 1000 people. All traditional birth attendants must know how to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and the infrastructure for an adequate referral system must be established. In order to reduce the incidence of low birth weight, the Integrated Child Development Service Scheme proposes that all pregnant women receive a dietary supplement of 500 calories and 25 gm protein, and that pregnant women be given a 2-hour midday rest period. The control of malaria and intestinal infections with chloroquine and antibiotics would do much to reduce low birth weight. Simple technologies for measuring birth weight indicators, such as chest circumference or mid-arm circumference, require only a tape measure. Finally, technics of mass communication must be utilized to spread knowledge of perinatal and neonatal care.

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