Neonatal mortality in Sri Lanka: timing, causes and distribution

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2009 Sep;22(9):791-6. doi: 10.3109/14767050902994549.


Objective: To evaluate the timing, causes and distribution of neonatal deaths in Sri Lanka, to provide information for policy makers, to undertake appropriate measures to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Methods: All neonatal deaths, reported to the Registrar General's Office, Sri Lanka, from 1997 to 2001, were included in the analysis.

Results: During this 5-year period, 17,946 neonatal deaths have occurred, of them 90.5% have occurred during the first week of life. The leading causes were preterm deliveries (33.2%), infections (19.8%) and cardiac anomalies (17.4%). The neonatal mortality rates (NMR) were higher in districts with specialised neonatal care facilities and high concentration of estates.

Conclusions: Approximately 3600 neonates die in Sri Lanka annually, even though it has a lower NMR compared to rest of the South Asia. Neonatal deaths were higher in the major cities and in the estate sector. The majority of neonatal deaths were due to complications of preterm birth, neonatal sepsis and cardiac anomalies.

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality* / trends
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Sri Lanka / epidemiology