Background: Neonatal mortality causes a substantial proportion of the under-5 mortality in low and middle-income countries (LMIC).
Methods: We undertook a prospective, population-based research study of pregnant women residing in defined geographic areas in the Karnataka State of India, a research site of the Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research. Study staff collected demographic and health care characteristics on eligible women enrolled with neonatal outcomes obtained at delivery and day 28. Cause of neonatal mortality at day 28 was assigned by algorithm using prospectively defined variables.
Results: From 2014 to 2018, the neonatal mortality rate was 24.5 per 1,000 live births. The cause of the 28-day neonatal deaths was attributed to prematurity (27.9%), birth asphyxia (25.1%), infection (23.7%) and congenital anomalies (18.4%). Four or more antenatal care (ANC) visits was associated with a lower risk of neonatal death compared to fewer ANC visits. In the adjusted model, compared to liveborn infants ≥ 2500 g, infants born weighing < 1000 g RR for mortality was 25.6 (95%CI 18.3, 36.0), for 1000-1499 g infants the RR was 19.8 (95% CI 14.2, 27.5) and for 1500-2499 g infants the RR was 3.1 (95% CI 2.7, 3.6). However, more than one-third (36.8%) of the deaths occurred among infants with a birthweight ≥ 2500 g. Infants born preterm (< 37 weeks) were also at higher risk for 28-day mortality (RR 7.9, 95% CI 6.9, 9.0) compared to infants ≥ 37 weeks. A one-week decrease in gestational age at delivery was associated with a higher risk of mortality with a RR of 1.3 (95% CI 1.3, 1.3). More than 70% of all the deliveries occurred at a hospital. Among infants who died, 50.3% of the infants had received bag/mask ventilation, 47.3% received antibiotics, and 55.6% received oxygen.
Conclusions: Consistent with prior research, the study found that infants who were preterm and low-birth weight remained at highest risk for 28-day neonatal mortality in India. Although most of births now occur within health facilities, a substantial proportion are not receiving basic life-saving interventions. Further efforts to understand the impact of care on infant outcomes are needed. Study registration The trial is registered at clinicaltrials.gov. ClinicalTrial.gov Trial Registration: NCT01073475.
Keywords: Cause of death; India; Neonatal death.