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Community-Based Education Can Halve Neonatal Mortality

Improved birth preparedness, hygienic delivery and thermal care all play a role

FRIDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- A community-based behavior modification program was able to reduce neonatal mortality by more than half in a rural setting in India, researchers report in the Sept. 27 issue of The Lancet.

Vishwajeet Kumar, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a study in 39 village administrative units in Shivgarh in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, comprising a population of 104,123 people. The villages were randomized to a control group, which received the usual government and non-governmental services, and two groups that received a preventive package of interventions covering birth preparedness, clean delivery and cord care, thermal care, breast-feeding promotion and information on how to recognize danger signs. One intervention group also received a liquid crystal hypothermia indicator.

Compared with the control group, there was a 54 percent reduction in neonatal mortality in the newborn-care intervention group, and a 52 percent reduction in the group also given the hypothermia indicator, the researchers found.

"Regions with high neonatal mortality rate and high prevalence of preventable high-risk practices are potentially poised to benefit from application of the principles of this study," the authors write. "The approach has been integrated into the child survival program of Uttar Pradesh, and currently is being scaled-up to a population of over 30 million through the public health system, using trained Accredited Social Health Activists to promote the package of preventive essential newborn care."

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