Background: Each year approximately 10 million babies do not breathe immediately at birth, of which about 6 million require basic neonatal resuscitation. The major burden is in low-income settings, where health system capacity to provide neonatal resuscitation is inadequate.
Objective: To systematically review the evidence for neonatal resuscitation content, training and competency, equipment and supplies, cost, and key program considerations, specifically for resource-constrained settings.
Results: Evidence from several observational studies shows that facility-based basic neonatal resuscitation may avert 30% of intrapartum-related neonatal deaths. Very few babies require advanced resuscitation (endotracheal intubation and drugs) and these newborns may not survive without ongoing ventilation; hence, advanced neonatal resuscitation is not a priority in settings without neonatal intensive care. Of the 60 million nonfacility births, most do not have access to resuscitation. Several trials have shown that a range of community health workers can perform neonatal resuscitation with an estimated effect of a 20% reduction in intrapartum-related neonatal deaths, based on expert opinion. Case studies illustrate key considerations for scale up.
Conclusion: Basic resuscitation would substantially reduce intrapartum-related neonatal deaths. Where births occur in facilities, it is a priority to ensure that all birth attendants are competent in resuscitation. Strategies to address the gap for home births are urgently required. More data are required to determine the impact of neonatal resuscitation, particularly on long-term outcomes in low-income settings.