Inadequate knowledge of neonatal danger signs among recently delivered women in southwestern rural Uganda: a community survey

PLoS One. 2014 May 13;9(5):e97253. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097253. eCollection 2014.


Background: Early detection of neonatal illness is an important step towards improving newborn survival. Every year an estimated 3.07 million children die during their first month of life and about one-third of these deaths occur during the first 24 hours. Ninety-eight percent of all neonatal deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries like Uganda. Inadequate progress has been made globally to reduce the amount of neonatal deaths that would be required to meet Millennium Development Goal 4. Poor knowledge of newborn danger signs delays care seeking. The aim of this study was to explore the knowledge of key newborn danger signs among mothers in southwestern Uganda.

Methods: Results from a community survey of 765 recently delivered women were analyzed using univariate and multivariate logistic regressions. Six key danger signs were identified, and spontaneous responses were categorized, tabulated, and analyzed.

Results: Knowledge of at least one key danger sign was significantly associated with being birth prepared (adjusted OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.2-2.3). Birth preparedness consisted of saving money, identifying transportation, identifying a skilled birth attendant and buying a delivery kit or materials. Overall, respondents had a poor knowledge of key newborn danger signs: 58.2% could identify one and 14.8% could identify two. We found no association between women attending the recommended number of antenatal care visits and their knowledge of danger signs (adjusted OR 1.0, 95% CI 0.8-1.4), or between women using a skilled birth attendant at delivery and their knowledge of danger signs (adjusted OR 1.2, 95% CI 0.9-1.7).

Conclusions: Our findings indicate the need to enhance education of mothers in antenatal care as well as those discharged from health facilities after delivery. Further promotion of birth preparedness is encouraged as part of the continuum of maternal care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Logistic Models
  • Mothers / education
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Uganda / epidemiology

Grant support

The original project was funded by a grant from Swedish Agency of International Aid, as well as Health Child Uganda and Global Health Research Initiative. This study has not received any funding. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.