Novel program is saving newborns' lives in developing countries

A program that teaches health care workers in developing countries basic techniques to resuscitate babies immediately after birth is saving lives, according to a study to be presented Tuesday, May 3, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Denver.

Called Helping Babies Breathe, the program focuses on simple techniques such as rubbing the baby dry, keeping the baby warm and suctioning the baby's mouth, all within the first minute of life called "The Golden Minute." If the baby does not start breathing at this time, the provider has been taught to initiate ventilation to "help the baby breathe." The program is designed to be implemented in settings where oxygen, chest compression, intubation and medications are not feasible or available.

Approximately 1 million in the die each year due to birth asphyxia, which is the failure to initiate or sustain spontaneous breathing at birth. "We postulated that many of these deaths are easily preventable if basic resuscitation interventions are undertaken soon after birth," said study co-author Jeffrey M. Perlman, MD, FAAP.

Helping Babies Breathe was piloted in Tanzania by the Ministry of Health in September 2009. Nurse midwives as well as physicians, assistant medical officers, and medical and nursing students were taught the steps to take immediately after birth to evaluate babies and stimulate breathing. are culturally sensitive and include pictures. Birth attendants also have access to basic equipment, including realistic newborn simulators, boilable bag-mask ventilation devices and boilable bulb suction devices.

Four hospitals collected data for three months before and three to four months after the program was implemented. Results showed that the mortality rate dropped 50 percent after program implementation from 13.4 deaths per 1,000 births to 6.3 deaths per 1,000 births.

"This is terribly exciting because if these findings are sustained, then this represents for the first time a reversal of birth asphyxia-related mortality," said Dr. Perlman, professor of pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College and division chief of newborn medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York City.

In addition, Helping Babies Breathe could help meet United Nations Millennium Developmental Goal 4 targets, which call for reducing mortality among children under 5 by two-thirds from 1990 to 2015.

"Currently, none of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is close to meeting the goals," Dr. Perlman said.

Helping Babies Breathe is an initiative of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other global health partners. The curriculum was developed with input from the World Health Organization.

More information: To view the abstract, go to www.abstracts2view.com/pas/vie… .php?nu=PAS11L1_1508

Provided by American Academy of Pediatrics

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Preterm birth rate drops

Mar 18, 2009

The nation's preterm birth rate declined slightly in 2007 - a finding that the March of Dimes hopes will prove to be the start of a new trend in improved maternal and infant health.

Nearly 28,000 US infants died in 2004

May 04, 2007

Preterm birth contributes to more than one-third of all infant deaths, according to the National Vital Statistics report released today.

Home birth: Proceed with caution

Jul 29, 2010

The risks associated with home birth are discussed in the lead Editorial in this week's Lancet, which says that while women have the right to choose how and where to give birth, they do not have the right to put their baby a ...

Recommended for you

The hunt for botanicals

1 hour ago

Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science.

Infertility, surrogacy in India

3 hours ago

Infertility is a growing problem worldwide. A World Health Organization report estimates that 60-to-80 million couples worldwide currently suffer from infertility.

Tooth loss linked to slowing mind and body

15 hours ago

The memory and walking speeds of adults who have lost all of their teeth decline more rapidly than in those who still have some of their own teeth, finds new UCL research.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.