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1.  Physiological Requirements for Zinc 
The estimates of zinc physiological requirements by the International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group (IZiNCG) in 2004 were conspicuously low in comparison with those estimated by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2001. The objective of this review is to explore the reasons for this gap and to reflect on lessons learned. All estimates of inevitable losses of endogenous zinc, especially intestinal excretion of endogenous zinc, were reviewed. An error in zinc menstrual losses, as well as a minor error in the linear regression of endogenous fecal zinc (EFZ) vs. total daily zinc absorption (TAZ) by IOM, were corrected. The review revealed an error by IZiNCG in selecting two data points for the linear regression of EFZ on TAZ. A second major reason for the “gap” is attributable to weighting of the data in the regression analysis by number of subjects per study by IZiNCG. Adjusting for these factors, together with use of the same reference data for body weights, resulted in satisfactory agreement between the two estimates of physiological requirements. The lessons to be learned from this review are discussed together with suggestions for future action by IOM as well as a constructive role for IZiNCG.
PMCID: PMC4495350  PMID: 22002220
Zinc; physiological requirements; factorial estimation
2.  Newborn length predicts early infant linear growth retardation and disproportionately high weight gain in a low-income population1-2 
Early human development  2013;89(12):10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2013.09.008.
Stunting is prevalent by the age of 6 mo in the indigenous population of the Western Highlands of Guatemala.
The objective of this study was to determine the time course and predictors of linear growth failure and weight-for-age in early infancy.
Study Design and Subjects
One hundred and forty eight term newborns had measurements of length and weight in their homes, repeated at 3 and 6 mo. Maternal measurements were also obtained.
Mean ± SD length-for-age Z-score (LAZ) declined from newborn -1.0 (1.01) to -2.20 (1.05) and -2.26 (1.01) at 3 and 6 mo respectively. Stunting rates for newborn, 3 and 6 mo were 47%, 53% and 56% respectively. A multiple regression model (R2 = 0.64) demonstrated that the major predictor of LAZ at 3 mo was newborn LAZ with the other predictors being newborn weight-for-age Z-score (WAZ), gender and maternal education*maternal age interaction. Because WAZ remained essentially constant and LAZ declined during the same period, weight-for-length Z-score (WLZ) increased from -0.44 to +1.28 from birth to 3 mo. The more severe the linear growth failure, the greater WAZ was in proportion to the LAZ.
The primary conclusion is that impaired fetal linear growth is the major predictor of early infant linear growth failure indicating that prevention needs to start with maternal interventions.
PMCID: PMC3859373  PMID: 24083893
3.  Resistant starch does not affect zinc homeostasis in rural Malawian children☆,☆☆ 
This study tested the hypothesis that Malawian children at risk for zinc deficiency will have reduced endogenous fecal zinc (EFZ) and increased net absorbed zinc (NAZ) following the addition of high amylose maize resistant starch (RS) to their diet.
This was a small controlled clinical trial to determine the effects of added dietary RS on zinc homeostasis among 17 stunted children, aged 3–5 years consuming a plant-based diet and at risk for perturbed zinc homeostasis. Dual zinc stable isotope studies were performed before and after 28 d of intervention with RS, so that each child served as their own control. The RS was incorporated into fried wheat flour dough and given under direct observation twice daily for 28 d. Changes in zinc homeostatic measures were compared using paired Student's t-tests and linear regression analysis.
Children had a mean height-for-age Z-score of −3.3, and consumed animal source foods ≤twice per month. Their habitual diet contained a phytate:zinc molar ratio of 34:1. Children avidly consumed the RS without complaints. EFZ was 0.8±0.4 mg/d (mean±SD) both before and after the intervention. Fractional absorption of zinc was 0.38±0.08 and 0.35±0.06 before and after the RS intervention respectively. NAZ was 1.1±0.5 and 0.6±0.7 before and after the RS intervention. This reduction of NAZ corresponded with diminished dietary zinc intake on the study day following intervention with RS. Regression analysis indicated no change in zinc absorption relative to dietary intake as a result of the RS intervention.
Consumption of RS did not improve zinc homeostasis in rural African children without zinc deficiency. RS was well tolerated in this setting.
PMCID: PMC4494741  PMID: 25744509
Zinc; Endogenous zinc; Zinc homeostasis; Malawi; Resistant starch
4.  Meat as complementary food for older breastfed infants and toddlers: A randomized, controlled trial in rural China 
Food and nutrition bulletin  2014;35(4 0):S188-S192.
Because of its contribution to dietary diversity and to favorable intakes of micronutrients, including iron and zinc, meat is hypothesized to be a valuable complementary food for the infant and young child. However, the evidence base remains limited.
To compare the difference in anthropometric measurements of rural Chinese infants and toddlers 6 to 18 months of age who received a daily supplement of meat or cereal for 12 months.
This cluster-randomized, controlled study provided a daily supplement of either meat (n = 514, 20 clusters) or cereal (n = 957, 40 clusters) starting as a first complementary food at 6 months of age. Anthropometric measurements were assessed longitudinally.
After 12 months of intervention, the meat group (Δ13.01 ± 1.9 cm) had greater (p = .01) linear growth than the cereal group (Δ12.75 ± 1.8 cm) and a smaller decrease in length-for-age z-score (LAZ) over time (−0.43 ± 0.72 in the meat group vs. −0.54 ± 0.67 in the cereal group), after adjustment for baseline length, LAZ, maternal education, work status, and maternal height and weight.
Linear growth was modestly greater in the meat group than in the cereal group. LAZ was substantially negative at 6 months, and the intervention did not prevent ongoing decline over the course of the study.
PMCID: PMC4490582  PMID: 25639137
Breastfeeding; complementary feeding; growth; linear growth; meat
5.  Lost to follow-up among pregnant women in a multi-site community based maternal and newborn health registry: a prospective study 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S4.
It is important when conducting epidemiologic studies to closely monitor lost to follow up (LTFU) rates. A high LTFU rate may lead to incomplete study results which in turn can introduce bias to the trial or study, threatening the validity of the findings. There is scarce information on LTFU in prospective community-based perinatal epidemiological studies. This paper reports the rates of LTFU, describes socio-demographic characteristics, and pregnancy/delivery outcomes of mothers LTFU in a large community-based pregnancy registry study.
Data were from a prospective, population-based observational study of the Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research Maternal Newborn Health Registry (MNHR). This is a multi-centre, international study in which pregnant women were enrolled in mid-pregnancy, followed through parturition and 42 days post-delivery. Risk for LTFU was calculated within a 95%CI.
A total of 282,626 subjects were enrolled in this study, of which 4,893 were lost to follow-up. Overall, there was a 1.7% LTFU to follow up rate. Factors associated with a higher LTFU included mothers who did not know their last menstrual period (RR 2.2, 95% CI 1.1, 4.4), maternal age of < 20 years (RR 1.2, 95% CI 1.1, 1.3), women with no formal education (RR 1.2, 95% CI 1.1, 1.4), and attending a government clinic for antenatal care (RR 2.0, 95% CI 1.4, 2.8). Post-natal factors associated with a higher LTFU rate included a newborn with feeding problems (RR 1.6, 94% CI 1.2, 2.2).
The LTFU rate in this community-based registry was low (1.7%). Maternal age, maternal level of education, pregnancy status at enrollment and using a government facility for ANC are factors associated with being LTFU. Strategies to ensure representation and high retention in community studies are important to informing progress toward public health goals.
Trial registration
Registration at the (ID# NCT01073475).
PMCID: PMC4464022  PMID: 26062899
Community based registry; maternal and newborn registry; lost to follow up rate; maternal socio demographic characteristics; pregnancy outcomes
6.  Stillbirth rates in low-middle income countries 2010 - 2013: a population-based, multi-country study from the Global Network 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S7.
Stillbirth rates remain nearly ten times higher in low-middle income countries (LMIC) than high income countries. In LMIC, where nearly 98% of stillbirths worldwide occur, few population-based studies have documented characteristics or care for mothers with stillbirths. Non-macerated stillbirths, those occurring around delivery, are generally considered preventable with appropriate obstetric care.
We undertook a prospective, population-based observational study of all pregnant women in defined geographic areas across 7 sites in low-resource settings (Kenya, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Guatemala and Argentina). Staff collected demographic and health care characteristics with outcomes obtained at delivery.
From 2010 through 2013, 269,614 enrolled women had 272,089 births, including 7,865 stillbirths. The overall stillbirth rate was 28.9/1000 births, ranging from 13.6/1000 births in Argentina to 56.5/1000 births in Pakistan. Stillbirth rates were stable or declined in 6 of the 7 sites from 2010-2013, only increasing in Pakistan. Less educated, older and women with less access to antenatal care were at increased risk of stillbirth. Furthermore, women not delivered by a skilled attendant were more likely to have a stillbirth (RR 2.8, 95% CI 2.2, 3.5). Compared to live births, stillbirths were more likely to be preterm (RR 12.4, 95% CI 11.2, 13.6). Infants with major congenital anomalies were at increased risk of stillbirth (RR 9.1, 95% CI 7.3, 11.4), as were multiple gestations (RR 2.8, 95% CI 2.4, 3.2) and breech (RR 3.0, 95% CI 2.6, 3.5). Altogether, 67.4% of the stillbirths were non-macerated. 7.6% of women with stillbirths had cesarean sections, with obstructed labor the primary indication (36.9%).
Stillbirth rates were high, but with reductions in most sites during the study period. Disadvantaged women, those with less antenatal care and those delivered without a skilled birth attendant were at increased risk of delivering a stillbirth. More than two-thirds of all stillbirths were non-macerated, suggesting potentially preventable stillbirth. Additionally, 8% of women with stillbirths were delivered by cesarean section. The relatively high rate of cesarean section among those with stillbirths suggested that this care was too late or not of quality to prevent the stillbirth; however, further research is needed to evaluate the quality of obstetric care, including cesarean section, on stillbirth in these low resource settings.
Study registration (ID# NCT01073475)
PMCID: PMC4464024  PMID: 26063292
Stillbirth; low-middle income countries; obstetric care
7.  Adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes in adolescent pregnancies: The Global Network’s Maternal Newborn Health Registry study 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S8.
Adolescent girls between 15 and 19 years give birth to around 16 million babies each year, around 11% of births worldwide. We sought to determine whether adolescent mothers are at higher risk of maternal and perinatal adverse outcomes compared with mothers aged 20–24 years in a prospective, population-based observational study of newborn outcomes in low resource settings.
We undertook a prospective, population-based multi-country research study of all pregnant women in defined geographic areas across 7 sites in six low-middle income countries (Kenya, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Guatemala and Argentina). The study population for this analysis was restricted to women aged 24 years or less, who gave birth to infants of at least 20 weeks’ gestation and 500g or more. We compared adverse pregnancy maternal and perinatal outcomes among pregnant adolescents 15-19 years, <15 years, and adults 20-24 years.
A total of 269,273 women were enrolled from January 2010 to December 2013. Of all pregnancies 11.9% (32,097/269,273) were in adolescents 15-19 years, while 0.14% (370/269,273) occurred among girls <15 years. Pregnancy among adolescents 15-19 years ranged from 2% in Pakistan to 26% in Argentina, and adolescent pregnancies <15 year were only observed in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Compared to adults, adolescents did not show increased risk of maternal adverse outcomes. Risks of preterm birth and LBW were significantly higher among both early and older adolescents, with the highest risks observed in the <15 years group. Neonatal and perinatal mortality followed a similar trend in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, with the highest risk in early adolescents, although the differences in this age group were not significant. However, in South Asia the risks of neonatal and perinatal death were not different among adolescents 15-19 years compared to adults.
This study suggests that pregnancy among adolescents is not associated with worse maternal outcomes, but is associated with worse perinatal outcomes, particularly in younger adolescents. However, this may not be the case in regions like South Asia where there are decreasing rates of adolescent pregnancies, concentrated among older adolescents. The increased risks observed among adolescents seems more likely to be associated with biological immaturity, than with socio-economic factors, inadequate antenatal or delivery care.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC4464033  PMID: 26063350
adolescent pregnancy
8.  Risk factors for maternal death and trends in maternal mortality in low- and middle-income countries: a prospective longitudinal cohort analysis 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S5.
Because large, prospective, population-based data sets describing maternal outcomes are typically not available in low- and middle-income countries, it is difficult to monitor maternal mortality rates over time and to identify factors associated with maternal mortality. Early identification of risk factors is essential to develop comprehensive intervention strategies preventing pregnancy-related complications. Our objective was to describe maternal mortality rates in a large, multi-country dataset and to determine maternal, pregnancy-related, delivery and postpartum characteristics that are associated with maternal mortality.
We collected data describing all pregnancies from 2010 to 2013 among women enrolled in the multi-national Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research Maternal and Neonatal Health Registry (MNHR). We reported the proportion of mothers who died per pregnancy and the maternal mortality ratio (MMR). Generalized linear models were used to evaluate the relationship of potential medical and social factors and maternal mortality and to develop point and interval estimates of relative risk associated with these factors. Generalized estimating equations were used to account for the correlation of outcomes within cluster to develop appropriate confidence intervals.
We recorded 277,736 pregnancies and 402 maternal deaths for an MMR of 153/100,000 live births. We observed an improvement in the total MMR from 166 in 2010 to 126 in 2013. The MMR in Latin American sites (91) was lower than the MMR in Asian (178) and African sites (125). When adjusted for study site and the other variables, no formal education (RR 3.2 [1.5, 6.9]), primary education only (RR 3.4 [1.6, 7.5]), secondary education only (RR 2.5 [1.1, 5.7]), lack of antenatal care (RR 1.8 [1.2, 2.5]), caesarean section delivery (RR 1.9 [1.3, 2.8]), hemorrhage (RR 3.3 [2.2, 5.1]), and hypertensive disorders (RR 7.4 [5.2, 10.4]) were associated with higher risks of death.
The MNHR identified preventable causes of maternal mortality in diverse settings in low- and middle-income countries. The MNHR can be used to monitor public health strategies and determine their association with reducing maternal mortality.
Trial Registration NCT01073475
PMCID: PMC4464034  PMID: 26062992
9.  Maternal and newborn outcomes in Pakistan compared to other low and middle income countries in the Global Network’s Maternal Newborn Health Registry: an active, community-based, pregnancy surveillance mechanism 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S15.
Despite global improvements in maternal and newborn health (MNH), maternal, fetal and newborn mortality rates in Pakistan remain stagnant. Using data from the Global Network’s Maternal Newborn Health Registry (MNHR) the objective of this study is to compare the rates of maternal mortality, stillbirth and newborn mortality and levels of putative risk factors between the Pakistani site and those in other countries.
Using data collected through a multi-site, prospective, ongoing, active surveillance system to track pregnancies and births in communities in discrete geographical areas in seven sites across six countries including Pakistan, India, Kenya, Zambia, Guatemala and Argentina from 2010 to 2013, the study compared MNH outcomes and risk factors. The MNHR captures more than 60,000 deliveries annually across all sites with over 10,000 of them in Thatta, Pakistan.
The Pakistan site had a maternal mortality ratio almost three times that of the other sites (313/100,000 vs 116/100,000). Stillbirth (56.5 vs 22.9/1000 births), neonatal mortality (50.0 vs 20.7/1000 livebirths) and perinatal mortality rates (95.2/1000 vs 39.0/1000 births) in Thatta, Pakistan were more than twice those of the other sites. The Pakistani site is the only one in the Global Network where maternal mortality increased (from 231/100,000 to 353/100,000) over the study period and fetal and neonatal outcomes remained stagnant. The Pakistan site lags behind other sites in maternal education, high parity, and appropriate antenatal and postnatal care. However, facility delivery and skilled birth attendance rates were less prominently different between the Pakistani site and other sites, with the exception of India. The difference in the fetal and neonatal outcomes between the Pakistani site and the other sites was most pronounced amongst normal birth weight babies.
The increase in maternal mortality and the stagnation of fetal and neonatal outcomes from 2010 to 2013 indicates that current levels of antenatal and newborn care interventions in Thatta, Pakistan are insufficient to protect against poor maternal and neonatal outcomes. Delivery care in the Pakistani site, while appearing quantitatively equivalent to the care in sites in Africa, is less effective in saving the lives of women and their newborns. By the metrics available from this study, the quality of obstetric and neonatal care in the site in Pakistan is poor.
Trial registration
The study is registered at [NCT01073475].
PMCID: PMC4464035  PMID: 26062610
Pakistan; maternal mortality; stillbirth; neonatal mortality
10.  A prospective observational description of frequency and timing of antenatal care attendance and coverage of selected interventions from sites in Argentina, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Pakistan and Zambia 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S12.
The Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research is one of the largest international networks for testing and generating evidence-based recommendations for improvement of maternal-child health in resource-limited settings. Since 2009, Global Network sites in six low and middle-income countries have collected information on antenatal care practices, which are important as indicators of care and have implications for programs to improve maternal and child health. We sought to: (1) describe the quantity of antenatal care attendance over a four-year period; and (2) explore the quality of coverage for selected preventative, screening, and birth preparedness components.
The Maternal Newborn Health Registry (MNHR) is a prospective, population-based birth and pregnancy outcomes registry in Global Network sites, including: Argentina, Guatemala, India (Belgaum and Nagpur), Kenya, Pakistan, and Zambia. MNHR data from these sites were prospectively collected from January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2013 and analyzed for indicators related to quantity and patterns of ANC and coverage of key elements of recommended focused antenatal care. Descriptive statistics were generated overall by global region (Africa, Asia, and Latin America), and for each individual site.
Overall, 96% of women reported at least one antenatal care visit. Indian sites demonstrated the highest percentage of women who initiated antenatal care during the first trimester. Women from the Latin American and Indian sites reported the highest number of at least 4 visits. Overall, 88% of women received tetanus toxoid. Only about half of all women reported having been screened for syphilis (49%) or anemia (50%). Rates of HIV testing were above 95% in the Argentina, African, and Indian sites. The Pakistan site demonstrated relatively high rates for birth preparation, but for most other preventative and screening interventions, posted lower coverage rates as compared to other Global Network sites.
Results from our large, prospective, population-based observational study contribute important insight into regional and site-specific patterns for antenatal care access and coverage. Our findings indicate a quality and coverage gap in antenatal care services, particularly in regards to syphilis and hemoglobin screening. We have identified site-specific gaps in access to, and delivery of, antenatal care services that can be targeted for improvement in future research and implementation efforts.
Trial registration
Registration at (ID# NCT01073475)
PMCID: PMC4464209  PMID: 26063483
Maternal-newborn health; birth registry; antenatal care; Africa; Asia; Latin America; focused antenatal care; quality of care
11.  Rates and determinants of early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breast feeding at 42 days postnatal in six low and middle-income countries: A prospective cohort study 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S10.
Early initiation of breastfeeding after birth and exclusive breastfeeding through six months of age confers many health benefits for infants; both are crucial high impact, low-cost interventions. However, determining accurate global rates of these crucial activities has been challenging. We use population-based data to describe: (1) rates of early initiation of breastfeeding (defined as within 1 hour of birth) and of exclusive breastfeeding at 42 days post-partum; and (2) factors associated with failure to initiate early breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding at 42 days post-partum.
Prospectively collected data from women and their live-born infants enrolled in the Global Network’s Maternal and Newborn Health Registry between January 1, 2010-December 31, 2013 included women-infant dyads in 106 geographic areas (clusters) at 7 research sites in 6 countries (Kenya, Zambia, India [2 sites], Pakistan, Argentina and Guatemala). Rates and risk factors for failure to initiate early breastfeeding were investigated for the entire cohort and rates and risk factors for failure to maintain exclusive breastfeeding was assessed in a sub-sample studied at 42 days post-partum.
A total of 255,495 live-born women-infant dyads were included in the study. Rates and determinants for the exclusive breastfeeding sub-study at 42 days post-partum were assessed from among a sub-sample of 105,563 subjects. Although there was heterogeneity by site, and early initiation of breastfeeding after delivery was high, the Pakistan site had the lowest rates of early initiation of breastfeeding. The Pakistan site also had the highest rate of lack of exclusive breastfeeding at 42 days post-partum. Across all regions, factors associated with failure to initiate early breastfeeding included nulliparity, caesarean section, low birth weight, resuscitation with bag and mask, and failure to place baby on the mother’s chest after delivery. Factors associated with failure to achieve exclusive breastfeeding at 42 days varied across the sites. The only factor significant in all sites was multiple gestation.
In this large, prospective, population-based, observational study, rates of both early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding at 42 days post-partum were high, except in Pakistan. Factors associated with these key breastfeeding indicators should assist with more effective strategies to scale-up these crucial public health interventions.
Trial registration
Registration at the website (ID# NCT01073475).
PMCID: PMC4464210  PMID: 26063291
Early initiation of breastfeeding; exclusive breastfeeding; neonatal mortality; global health; newborn
12.  A prospective population-based study of maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes in the setting of prolonged labor, obstructed labor and failure to progress in low- and middle-income countries 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S9.
This population-based study sought to quantify maternal, fetal, and neonatal morbidity and mortality in low- and middle-income countries associated with obstructed labor, prolonged labor and failure to progress (OL/PL/FTP).
A prospective, population-based observational study of pregnancy outcomes was performed at seven sites in Argentina, Guatemala, India (2 sites, Belgaum and Nagpur), Kenya, Pakistan and Zambia. Women were enrolled in pregnancy and delivery and 6-week follow-up obtained to evaluate rates of OL/PL/FTP and outcomes resulting from OL/PL/FTP, including: maternal and delivery characteristics, maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality and stillbirth.
Between 2010 and 2013, 266,723 of 267,270 records (99.8%) included data on OL/PL/FTP with an overall rate of 110.4/1000 deliveries that ranged from 41.6 in Zambia to 200.1 in Pakistan. OL/PL/FTP was more common in women aged <20, nulliparous women, more educated women, women with infants >3500g, and women with a BMI >25 (RR 1.4, 95% CI 1.3 – 1.5), with the suggestion of OL/PL/FTP being less common in preterm deliveries. Protective characteristics included parity of ≥3, having an infant <1500g, and having a BMI <18. Women with OL/PL/FTP were more likely to die within 42 days (RR 1.9, 95% CI 1.4 – 2.4), be infected (RR 1.8, 95% CI 1.5 – 2.2), and have hemorrhage antepartum (RR 2.8, 95% CI 2.1 – 3.7) or postpartum (RR 2.4, 95% CI 1.8 – 3.3). They were also more likely to have a stillbirth (RR 1.6, 95% CI 1.3 – 1.9), a neonatal demise at < 28 days (RR 1.9, 95% CI 1.6 – 2.1), or a neonatal infection (RR 1.2, 95% CI 1.1 – 1.3). As compared to operative vaginal delivery and cesarean section (CS), women experiencing OL/PL/FTP who gave birth vaginally were more likely to become infected, to have an infected neonate, to hemorrhage in the antepartum and postpartum period, and to die, have a stillbirth, or have a neonatal demise. Women with OL/PL/FTP were far more likely to deliver in a facility and be attended by a physician or other skilled provider than women without this diagnosis.
Women with OL/PL/FTP in the communities studied were more likely to be primiparous, younger than age 20, overweight, and of higher education, with an infant with birthweight of >3500g. Women with this diagnosis were more likely to experience a maternal, fetal, or neonatal death, antepartum and postpartum hemorrhage, and maternal and neonatal infection. They were also more likely to deliver in a facility with a skilled provider. CS may decrease the risk of poor outcomes (as in the case of antepartum hemorrhage), but unassisted vaginal delivery exacerbates all of the maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes evaluated in the setting of OL/PL/FTP.
PMCID: PMC4464213  PMID: 26063492
obstructed labor; maternal mortality; maternal morbidity; neonatal mortality; neonatal morbidity; stillbirth; sub-Saharan Africa
13.  Neonatal mortality and coverage of essential newborn interventions 2010 - 2013: a prospective, population-based study from low-middle income countries 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S6.
Approximately 3 million neonatal deaths occur each year worldwide. Simple interventions have been tested and found to be effective in reducing the neonatal mortality. In order to effectively implement public health interventions, it is important to know the rates of neonatal mortality and understand the contributing risk factors. Hence, this prospective, population-based, observational study was carried out to inform these needs.
The Global Network’s Maternal Newborn Health Registry was initiated in the seven sites in 2008. Registry administrators (RAs) attempt to identify and enroll all eligible women by 20 weeks gestation and collect basic health data, and outcomes after delivery and at 6 weeks post-partum. All study data were collected, reviewed, and edited by staff at each study site. The study was reviewed and approved by each sites’ ethics review committee.
Overall, the 7-day neonatal mortality rate (NMR) was 20.6 per 1000 live births and the 28-day NMR was 25.7 per 1000 live births. Higher neonatal mortality was associated with maternal age > 35 and <20 years relative to women 20-35 years of age. Preterm births were at increased risk of both early and 28-day neonatal mortality (RR 8.1, 95% CI 7.5-8.8 and 7.5, 95% CI 6.9-8.1) compared to term as were those with low birth weight (<2500g). Neonatal resuscitation rates were 4.8% for hospital deliveries compared to 0.9% for home births. In the hospital, 26.5% of deliveries were by cesarean section with an overall cesarean section rate of 12.5%. Neonatal mortality rates were highest in the Pakistan site and lowest in Argentina.
Using prospectively collected data with high follow up rates (99%), we documented characteristics associated with neonatal mortality. Low birth weight and prematurity are among the strongest predictors of neonatal mortality. Other risk factors for neonatal deaths included male gender, multiple gestation and major congenital anomalies. Breech presentation/transverse lie, and no antenatal care were also significant risk factors for neonatal death. Coverage of interventions varied by setting of delivery, with the overall population rate of most evidence-based interventions low. This study informs about risk factors for neonatal mortality which can serve to design strategies/interventions to reduce risk of neonatal mortality.
Trial registration
The trial is registered at Trial Registration: NCT01073475
PMCID: PMC4464215  PMID: 26063125
neonatal mortality; newborn care; risk factors
14.  Postpartum contraceptive use and unmet need for family planning in five low-income countries 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S11.
During the post-partum period, most women wish to delay or prevent future pregnancies. Despite this, the unmet need for family planning up to a year after delivery is higher than at any other time. This study aims to assess fertility intention, contraceptive usage and unmet need for family planning amongst women who are six weeks postpartum, as well as to identify those at greatest risk of having an unmet need for family planning during this period.
Using the NICHD Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research’s multi-site, prospective, ongoing, active surveillance system to track pregnancies and births in 100 rural geographic clusters in 5 countries (India, Pakistan, Zambia, Kenya and Guatemala), we assessed fertility intention and contraceptive usage at day 42 post-partum.
We gathered data on 36,687 women in the post-partum period. Less than 5% of these women wished to have another pregnancy within the year. Despite this, rates of modern contraceptive usage varied widely and unmet need ranged from 25% to 96%. Even amongst users of modern contraceptives, the uptake of the most effective long-acting reversible contraceptives (intrauterine devices) was low. Women of age less than 20 years, parity of two or less, limited education and those who deliver at home were at highest risk for having unmet need.
Six weeks postpartum, almost all women wish to delay or prevent a future pregnancy. Even in sites where early contraceptive adoption is common, there is substantial unmet need for family planning. This is consistently highest amongst women below the age of 20 years. Interventions aimed at increasing the adoption of effective contraceptive methods are urgently needed in the majority of sites in order to reduce unmet need and to improve both maternal and infant outcomes, especially amongst young women.
Study registration (ID# NCT01073475)
PMCID: PMC4464604  PMID: 26063346
Contraception; low-middle income countries; obstetric care; family planning
15.  Trends in perinatal deaths from 2010 to 2013 in the Guatemalan Western Highlands 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S14.
While progress has been made in reducing neonatal mortality in Guatemala, stillbirth and maternal mortality rates remain high, especially among the indigenous populations, which have among the highest adverse pregnancy-related mortality rates in Guatemala.
We conducted a prospective study in the Western Highlands of Guatemala from 2010 through 2013, enrolling women during pregnancy with follow-up through 42-days postpartum. All pregnant women were identified and enrolled by study staff in the clusters in the Chimaltenango region for which we had 4 years of data. Enrolment usually occurred during the antenatal period; women were also visited following delivery and 42-days postpartum to collect outcomes. Measures of antenatal and delivery care were also obtained.
Approximately four thousand women were enrolled annually (3,869 in 2010 to 4,570 in 2013). The stillbirth rate decreased significantly, from 22.0 per 1000 births (95% CI 16.6, 29.0) in 2010 to 16.7 (95% CI 13.5, 20.6) in 2013 (p-value 0.0223). The perinatal mortality rate decreased from 43.9 per 1,000 births (95% CI 36.0, 53.6) to 31.6 (95% CI 27.2, 36.7) (p-value 0.0003). The 28-day neonatal mortality rate decreased from 28.9 per 1000 live births (95% CI 25.2, 33.2) to 21.7 (95% CI 17.5, 26.9), p-value 0.0004. The maternal mortality rate was 134 per 100,000 in 2010 vs. 113 per 100,000 in 2013. Over the same period, hospital birth rates increased from 30.0 to 50.3%.
In a relatively short time period, significant improvements in neonatal, fetal and perinatal mortality were noted in an area of Guatemala with a history of poor pregnancy outcomes. These changes were temporally related to major increases in hospital-based delivery with skilled birth attendants, as well as improvements in the quality of delivery care, neonatal care, and prenatal care.
PMCID: PMC4464607  PMID: 26062407
Nutrition reviews  2011;69(0 1):10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00434.x.
The rationale is considered for promoting the availability of local, affordable, non-fortified food sources of bioavailable iron in developing countries. Intakes of iron from the regular consumption of meat from the age of six months are evaluated with respect to physiological requirements. The paper includes a description of two major randomized controlled trials of meat as a first and regular complementary food that are currently in progress. These trials involve poor communities in Guatemala, Pakistan, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and China.
PMCID: PMC3875190  PMID: 22043884
iron; meat; complementary feeding
17.  Zinc Supplementation in a Randomized Controlled Trial Decreased ZIP4 and ZIP8 mRNA Abundance in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells of Adult Women 
Zinc plays an integral role in numerous cellular processes including regulation of gene expression. This randomized placebo-controlled trial in adult women evaluated the effects of 20 mg Zn for 23 days. The mRNA abundance of zinc transporters (ZnT1/ZIP3/ZIP4/ZIP8) and metallothionein (MT1) from peripheral blood mononuclear cells was determined by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. In paired samples (n = 6–9), the ZIP4 (P = 0.036) and ZIP8 (P = 0.038) mRNA abundance decreased following zinc supplementation. ZnT1, ZIP3, and MT1 mRNA abundance did not change significantly. The mean ± standard deviation plasma zinc concentration (by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) at baseline was 680 ± 110 μg/L for the zinc group (n = 24) and 741 ± 92 μg/L for the placebo group (n = 23). At endpoint, plasma zinc in the zinc group increased to 735 ± 80 μg/L (P < 0.01) while in the placebo group (717 ± 100 μg/L) it did not change significantly from baseline. The change in mRNA abundance highlights the importance of further investigating ZIP4 and ZIP8 mRNA abundance as potential zinc status biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC4431478  PMID: 26023281
zinc supplementation; zinc; ZIP4; ZIP8
18.  Neonatal death in Low-Middle Income Countries: A Global Network Study 
American journal of perinatology  2012;29(8):649-656.
To determine population-based neonatal mortality rates in low and middle income countries and to examine gestational age, birth-weight and timing of death to assess the potentially preventable neonatal deaths.
A prospective observational study was conducted in communities in five low-income countries (Kenya, Zambia, Guatemala, India, and Pakistan) and one mid-income country (Argentina). Over a two-year period, all pregnant women in the study communities were enrolled by trained study staff and their infants followed to 28 days of age.
Between October 2009 and March 2011, 153,728 babies were delivered and followed through day 28. Neonatal death rates ranged from 41 per 1000 births in Pakistan to 8 per 1000 in Argentina. 54% of the neonatal deaths were >37 weeks and 46% weighed 2500 grams or more. Half the deaths occurred within 24 hours of delivery.
In our population-based low and middle income country registries, the majority of neonatal deaths occurred in babies >37 weeks gestation and almost half weighed at least 2500 grams. Most deaths occurred shortly after birth. With access to better medical care and hospitalization, especially in the intrapartum and early neonatal period, many of these neonatal deaths might be prevented.
PMCID: PMC4337792  PMID: 22644832
Neonatal mortality; low-income countries; preterm birth
19.  Infant Stunting Is Associated With Short Maternal Stature 
The objectives were to determine the range of maternal height associated with growth velocity of older infants and the magnitude of this association in an indigent population. Maternal height and infant length-for-age z scores (LAZ) were positively correlated at both 6 (n=412, r=0.324) and 12 (n=388, r=0.335) months (P<0.0001) and for maternal heights from 131 to 164 cm. Maternal height is independently associated with infant LAZ and stunting (LAZ <−2) at both 6 and 12 months (P<0.001) and with linear growth velocity from 6 to 12 months (P=0.0023).
PMCID: PMC3607506  PMID: 21866055
infant growth; maternal height; stunting
20.  Zinc Absorption from Micronutrient Powder Is Low but Is not Affected by Iron in Kenyan Infants 
Nutrients  2014;6(12):5636-5651.
Interference with zinc absorption is a proposed explanation for adverse effects of supplemental iron in iron-replete children in malaria endemic settings. We examined the effects of iron in micronutrient powder (MNP) on zinc absorption after three months of home fortification with MNP in maize-based diets in rural Kenyan infants. In a double blind design, six-month-old, non-anemic infants were randomized to MNP containing 5 mg zinc, with or without 12.5 mg of iron (MNP + Fe and MNP − Fe, respectively); a control (C) group received placebo powder. After three months, duplicate diet collections and zinc stable isotopes were used to measure intake from MNP + non-breast milk foods and fractional absorption of zinc (FAZ) by dual isotope ratio method; total absorbed zinc (TAZ, mg/day) was calculated from intake × FAZ. Mean (SEM) TAZ was not different between MNP + Fe (n = 10) and MNP − Fe (n = 9) groups: 0.85 (0.22) and 0.72 (0.19), respectively, but both were higher than C (n = 9): 0.24 (0.03) (p = 0.04). Iron in MNP did not significantly alter zinc absorption, but despite intakes over double estimated dietary requirement, both MNP groups’ mean TAZ barely approximated the physiologic requirement for age. Impaired zinc absorption may dictate need for higher zinc doses in vulnerable populations.
PMCID: PMC4276989  PMID: 25493942
zinc absorption; micronutrient powders; iron supplementation; malaria; Kenya
21.  Infant Responsiveness, Alertness, Hemoglobin and Growth in Rural Sidama, Ethiopia 
Maternal & child nutrition  2012;9(4):483-498.
Several recent studies have supported relations between infant behavior (alertness and responsiveness) and nutrition (e.g. Dempsey 2008, Wachs et al 2005) in addition to investigating infant behavior within the context of changes in iron status over time (e.g. Black et al. 2004, Murray-Kolb & Beard 2009). Existing research is typically limited to investigation of the effects of a single vitamin or mineral and no studies have been found that examined the influence that early alertness and responsiveness have on growth in early infancy, despite the fact that relations between behavior and nutritional status may be bidirectional (Hulthén 2003). The current study used a sample of Ethiopian infants and investigated anthropometrics, hemoglobin, the frequency of alertness, and the frequency of responsiveness at 6 and 9 months of age. Six-month weight-for-age predicted 9-month frequency of alertness, while 6-month hemoglobin predicted 9-month frequency of responsiveness. Compared to responsive infants, non-responsive infants at 6 months remained more non-responsive at 9 months, though weight-for-age for both groups converged at 9 months. Results support relations between nutrition and behavior (alertness and responsiveness) and provide evidence of a potentially useful tool (the Laboratory Temperament Assessment Battery [Lab-TAB]) that was adapted to evaluate these relations in Ethiopia.
PMCID: PMC3326179  PMID: 22233352
development; infant growth; hemoglobin; alertness; responsiveness; international nutrition
22.  Effects of Different Complementary Feeding Regimens on Iron Status and Enteric Microbiota in Breastfed Infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;163(2):416-423.e4.
To compare iron status in breastfed infants randomized to complementary feeding regimens that provided iron from fortified infant cereals or meats, and examined the development of the enteric microbiota among groups.
Study design
Forty-five exclusively breastfed 5 month old infants were randomized to commercially available pureed meats, iron- and zinc-fortified infant cereals, or iron-only fortified infant cereals as the first and primary complementary food through 9–10 months of age. Dietary iron was determined by monthly 3-d diet records. Iron status was assessed at end of the study by hemoglobin (Hb), serum ferritin (SF), and soluble transferrin receptor (STfR) measurements. In a subsample 14 infants, enteric microbiota were profiled in monthly stool samples (5–9 mo) by 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing.
Infants in cereal groups had 2–3 fold greater daily iron intakes vs the meat group (P < 0.0001). 27% of participants had low SF, and 36% were mildly anemic, without significant differences by feeding group; more infants in meat group had high STfR (p=0.03). Sequence analysis identified differences by time and feeding group in the abundances of several bacterial groups, including significantly more abundant butyrate producing Clostridium Group XIVa in the meat group (P=0.01)
A high percentage of healthy infants who were breastfed-only were iron deficient, and complementary feeding, including iron exposure, influenced the development of the enteric microbiota. If these findings are confirmed, reconsideration of strategies to both meet infants’ iron requirements and optimize the developing microbiome may be warranted.
PMCID: PMC3674183  PMID: 23452586
iron; complementary feeding; breastfeeding; phylogeny; microbiome
23.  Preconception maternal nutrition: a multi-site randomized controlled trial 
Research directed to optimizing maternal nutrition commencing prior to conception remains very limited, despite suggestive evidence of its importance in addition to ensuring an optimal nutrition environment in the periconceptional period and throughout the first trimester of pregnancy.
Methods/Study design
This is an individually randomized controlled trial of the impact on birth length (primary outcome) of the time at which a maternal nutrition intervention is commenced: Arm 1: ≥ 3 mo preconception vs. Arm 2: 12-14 wk gestation vs. Arm 3: none.
192 (derived from 480) randomized mothers and living offspring in each arm in each of four research sites (Guatemala, India, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo). The intervention is a daily 20 g lipid-based (118 kcal) multi-micronutient (MMN) supplement. Women randomized to receive this intervention with body mass index (BMI) <20 or whose gestational weight gain is low will receive an additional 300 kcal/d as a balanced energy-protein supplement. Researchers will visit homes biweekly to deliver intervention and monitor compliance, pregnancy status and morbidity; ensure prenatal and delivery care; and promote breast feeding. The primary outcome is birth length. Secondary outcomes include: fetal length at 12 and 34 wk; incidence of low birth weight (LBW); neonatal/infant anthropometry 0-6 mo of age; infectious disease morbidity; maternal, fetal, newborn, and infant epigenetics; maternal and infant nutritional status; maternal and infant microbiome; gut inflammatory biomarkers and bioactive and nutritive compounds in breast milk. The primary analysis will compare birth Length-for-Age Z-score (LAZ) among trial arms (independently for each site, estimated effect size: 0.35). Additional statistical analyses will examine the secondary outcomes and a pooled analysis of data from all sites.
Positive results of this trial will support a paradigm shift in attention to nutrition of all females of child-bearing age.
Trial registration NCT01883193.
PMCID: PMC4000057  PMID: 24650219
Preconception; Maternal; Nutrition; Birth length; Epigenetics; Microbiome
24.  First look: a cluster-randomized trial of ultrasound to improve pregnancy outcomes in low income country settings 
In high-resource settings, obstetric ultrasound is a standard component of prenatal care used to identify pregnancy complications and to establish an accurate gestational age in order to improve obstetric care. Whether or not ultrasound use will improve care and ultimately pregnancy outcomes in low-resource settings is unknown.
This multi-country cluster randomized trial will assess the impact of antenatal ultrasound screening performed by health care staff on a composite outcome consisting of maternal mortality and maternal near-miss, stillbirth and neonatal mortality in low-resource community settings. The trial will utilize an existing research infrastructure, the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research with sites in Pakistan, Kenya, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Guatemala. A maternal and newborn health registry in defined geographic areas which documents all pregnancies and their outcomes to 6 weeks post-delivery will provide population-based rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, stillbirth, neonatal mortality and morbidity, and health care utilization for study clusters. A total of 58 study clusters each with a health center and about 500 births per year will be randomized (29 intervention and 29 control). The intervention includes training of health workers (e.g., nurses, midwives, clinical officers) to perform ultrasound examinations during antenatal care, generally at 18–22 and at 32–36 weeks for each subject. Women who are identified as having a complication of pregnancy will be referred to a hospital for appropriate care. Finally, the intervention includes community sensitization activities to inform women and their families of the availability of ultrasound at the antenatal care clinic and training in emergency obstetric and neonatal care at referral facilities.
In summary, our trial will evaluate whether introduction of ultrasound during antenatal care improves pregnancy outcomes in rural, low-resource settings. The intervention includes training for ultrasound-naïve providers in basic obstetric ultrasonography and then enabling these trainees to use ultrasound to screen for pregnancy complications in primary antenatal care clinics and to refer appropriately.
Trial registration (NCT # 01990625)
PMCID: PMC3996090  PMID: 24533878
Maternal mortality; Maternal near miss; Perinatal mortality; Obstetric ultrasound; Low-income countries
25.  Meat consumption is associated with less stunting among toddlers in four diverse low-income settings 
Food and nutrition bulletin  2011;32(3):185-191.
Early growth faltering is common but is difficult to reverse after the first 2 years of life.
To describe feeding practices and growth in infants and young children in diverse low-income settings prior to undertaking a complementary feeding trial.
This cross-sectional study was conducted through the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research in Guatemala, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, and Pakistan. Feeding questionnaires were administered to convenience samples of mothers of 5- to 9-month old infants and 12- to 24-month-old toddlers. After standardized training, anthropometric measurements were obtained from the toddlers. Following the 2006 World Health Organization Growth Standards, stunting was defined as length-for-age < −2SD, and wasting as weight-for-length < −2SD. Logistic regression was applied to evaluate relationships between stunting and wasting and consumption of meat (including chicken and liver and not including fish).
Data were obtained from 1,500 infants with a mean (± SD) age of 6.9 ± 1.4 months and 1,658 toddlers with a mean age of 17.2 ± 3.5 months. The majority of the subjects in both age groups were breastfed. Less than 25% of the infants received meat regularly, whereas 62% of toddlers consumed these foods regularly, although the rates varied widely among sites. Stunting rate ranged from 44% to 66% among sites; wasting prevalence was less than 10% at all sites. After controlling for covariates, consumption of meat was associated with a reduced likelihood of stunting (OR = 0.64; 95% CI, 0.46 to 0.90).
The strikingly high stunting rates in these toddlers and the protective effect of meat consumption against stunting emphasize the need for interventions to improve complementary feeding practices, beginning in infancy.
PMCID: PMC3918945  PMID: 22073791
Complementary feeding; infant growth; infant nutrition; stunting

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