Newborn Care

Photo Credit: John Gray

 Essential Newborn Care is care that every newborn baby needs regardless of where it is born or its size. This should be implemented immediately after the baby is born and continued for at least the first seven days after birth. (WHO 2015)

The neonatal period includes the first 28 days after birth. Globally, an estimated 2.7 million newborn babies die every year. Most of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries and up to 75% of these occur on the day of birth or within the first week of life. Many of these deaths occur in babies that are born too early and too small, babies with infections, or babies asphyxiated around the time of birth. Labour, birth and the immediate postnatal period are the most critical for newborn survival.

At CMNH, we are committed to improving newborn healthcare. We develop research projects which are particularly beneficial for newborns in low- and middle-income countries. Our main areas of research are:

  • The use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) for newborns
  • The improvement of the management of severe bacterial infections
  • Exploring causes and factors associated with stillbirth
  • Development of tools to help healthcare workers improve the quality of care they provide to mothers and babies

Current and recent examples of our work to improve newborn care

In 2018, CMNH was commissioned to conduct a performance assessment of UNICEF-supported Special Care Newborn Units (SCANUs) in Bangladesh. This study assessed how SCANUs operate, including how they integrate with newborn care services at other levels of the healthcare system and with maternity units. It identified facilitators and barriers to the running and expansion of SCANUs to inform further scale-up across the country. CMNH was also commissioned to undertake a performance assessment of UNICEF-supported Special Care Newborn Units (SCNUs) in India.

In 2019, a population-based prospective cohort study is ongoing in Ghana and Zimbabwe to assess the burden of neonatal and child diseases potentially preventable by maternal immunisation. The study focuses on Group B streptococcus (GBS), Respiratory Syncitial Virus (RSV), Influenza and Pertussis (GRIP). Findings will be used to develop recommendations for the prioritisation of vaccines and inform the investment case for vaccines for GRIP organisms.

In Kenya, a study is ongoing to develop and test a novel package of community-based interventions targeting low birth weight babies.