To describe quantitative data quality monitoring and performance metrics adopted by the Global Network’s (GN) Maternal Newborn Health Registry (MNHR), a maternal and perinatal population-based registry (MPPBR) based in low and middle income countries (LMICs).
Ongoing prospective, population-based data on all pregnancy outcomes within defined geographical locations participating in the GN have been collected since 2008. Data quality metrics were defined and are implemented at the cluster, site and the central level to ensure data quality. Quantitative performance metrics are described for data collected between 2010 and 2013.
Delivery outcome rates over 95% illustrate that all sites are successful in following patients from pregnancy through delivery. Examples of specific performance metric reports illustrate how both the metrics and reporting process are used to identify cluster-level and site-level quality issues and illustrate how those metrics track over time. Other summary reports (e.g. the increasing proportion of measured birth weight compared to estimated and missing birth weight) illustrate how a site has improved quality over time.
High quality MPPBRs such as the MNHR provide key information on pregnancy outcomes to local and international health officials where civil registration systems are lacking. The MNHR has measures in place to monitor data collection procedures and improve the quality of data collected. Sites have increasingly achieved acceptable values of performance metrics over time, indicating improvements in data quality, but the quality control program must continue to evolve to optimize the use of the MNHR to assess the impact of community interventions in research protocols in pregnancy and perinatal health.
Trial registration number
data monitoring; data quality; maternal health; newborn health; perinatal registry; metrics; low-income countries
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.
Registration at the Clinicaltrials.gov (ID# NCT01073475).
Community based registry; maternal and newborn registry; lost to follow up rate; maternal socio demographic characteristics; pregnancy outcomes
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.
Clinicaltrials.gov (ID# NCT01073475)
Stillbirth; low-middle income countries; obstetric care
Skilled birth attendance and institutional delivery have been advocated for reducing maternal, perinatal and neonatal mortality (PMR and NMR). India has successfully implemented various strategies to promote skilled attendance and incentivize institutional deliveries in the last 5 years.
The study evaluates the trends in institutional delivery, PMR, NMR, and their risk factors in two Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research sites, in Belgaum and Nagpur, India, between January 2010 and December 2013.
Descriptive data stratified by level of delivery care and key risk factors were analyzed for 36 geographic clusters providing 48 months of data from a prospective, population-based surveillance system that registers all pregnant permanent residents in the study area, and their pregnancy outcomes irrespective of where they deliver. Log binomial models with generalized estimating equations to control for correlation of clustered observations were used to test the trends significance
64,803 deliveries were recorded in Belgaum and 39,081 in Nagpur. Institutional deliveries increased from 92.6% to 96.1% in Belgaum and from 89.5% to 98.6% in Nagpur (both p<0.0001); hospital rates increased from 63.4% to 71.0% (p=0.002) and from 63.1% to 72.0% (p<0.0001), respectively. PMR declined from 41.3 to 34.6 (p=0.008) deaths per 1,000 births in Belgaum and from 47.4 to 40.8 (p=0.09) in Nagpur. Stillbirths also declined, from 22.5 to 16.3 per 1,000 births in Belgaum and from 29.3 to 21.1 in Nagpur (both p=0.002). NMR remained unchanged.
Significant increases in institutional deliveries, particularly in hospitals, were accompanied by reductions in stillbirths and PMR, but not by NMR.
Perinatal mortality; stillbirth; neonatal mortality; institutional delivery; household surveillance; India
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
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.
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.
The study is registered at clinicaltrials.gov [NCT01073475].
Pakistan; maternal mortality; stillbirth; neonatal mortality
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.
Registration at Clinicaltrials.gov (ID# NCT01073475)
Maternal-newborn health; birth registry; antenatal care; Africa; Asia; Latin America; focused antenatal care; quality of care
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.
Registration at the Clinicaltrials.gov website (ID# NCT01073475).
Early initiation of breastfeeding; exclusive breastfeeding; neonatal mortality; global health; newborn
The Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research (Global Network) supports and conducts clinical trials in resource-limited countries by pairing foreign and U.S. investigators, with the goal of evaluating low-cost, sustainable interventions to improve the health of women and children. Accurate reporting of births, stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal mortality, and measures of obstetric and neonatal care is critical to efforts to discover strategies for improving pregnancy outcomes in resource-limited settings. Because most of the sites in the Global Network have weak registration within their health care systems, the Global Network developed the Maternal Newborn Health Registry (MNHR), a prospective, population-based registry of pregnancies at the Global Network sites to provide precise data on health outcomes and measures of care.
Pregnant women are enrolled in the MNHR if they reside in or receive healthcare in designated groups of communities within sites in the Global Network. For each woman, demographic, health characteristics and major outcomes of pregnancy are recorded. Data are recorded at enrollment, the time of delivery and at 42 days postpartum.
From 2010 through 2013 Global Network sites were located in Argentina, Guatemala, Belgaum and Nagpur, India, Pakistan, Kenya, and Zambia. During this period, 283,496 pregnant women were enrolled in the MNHR; this number represented 98.8% of all eligible women. Delivery data were collected for 98.8% of women and 42-day follow-up data for 98.4% of those enrolled. In this supplement, there are a series of manuscripts that use data gathered through the MNHR to report outcomes of these pregnancies.
Developing public policy and improving public health in countries with poor perinatal outcomes is, in part, dependent upon understanding the outcome of every pregnancy. Because the worst pregnancy outcomes typically occur in countries with limited health registration systems and vital records, alternative registration systems may prove to be highly valuable in providing data. The MNHR, an international, multicenter, population-based registry, assesses pregnancy outcomes over time in support of efforts to develop improved perinatal healthcare in resource-limited areas.
Study Registration: The Maternal Newborn Health Registry is registered at Clinicaltrials.gov (ID# NCT01073475).
registry; perinatal mortality; neonatal mortality; stillbirth; maternal mortality
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.
obstructed labor; maternal mortality; maternal morbidity; neonatal mortality; neonatal morbidity; stillbirth; sub-Saharan Africa
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.
The trial is registered at clinicaltrials.gov. ClinicalTrial.gov Trial Registration: NCT01073475
neonatal mortality; newborn care; risk factors
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.
Clinicaltrials.gov (ID# NCT01073475)
Contraception; low-middle income countries; obstetric care; family planning
We conducted a theory-driven process evaluation of a cluster randomized controlled trial comparing two types of complementary feeding (meat versus fortified cereal) on infant growth in Guatemala, Pakistan, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We examined process evaluation indicators for the entire study cohort (N = 1236) using chi-square tests to examine differences between treatment groups. We administered exit interviews to 219 caregivers and 45 intervention staff to explore why caregivers may or may not have performed suggested infant feeding behaviors. Multivariate regression analysis was used to determine the relationship between caregiver scores and infant linear growth velocity. As message recall increased, irrespective of treatment group, linear growth velocity increased when controlling for other factors (P < 0.05), emphasizing the importance of study messages. Our detailed process evaluation revealed few differences between treatment groups, giving us confidence that the main trial’s lack of effect to reverse the progression of stunting cannot be explained by differences between groups or inconsistencies in protocol implementation. These findings add to an emerging body of literature suggesting limited impact on stunting of interventions initiated during the period of complementary feeding in impoverished environments. The early onset and steady progression support the provision of earlier and comprehensive interventions.
Neonatal mortality associated with preterm birth can be reduced with antenatal corticosteroids (ACS), yet <10% of eligible pregnant women in low-middle income countries. The inability to accurately determine gestational age (GA) leads to under-identification of high-risk women who could receive ACS or other interventions. To facilitate better identification in low-resource settings, we developed a color-coded tape for uterine height (UH) measurement and estimated its accuracy identifying preterm pregnancies.
We designed a series of colored-coded tapes with segments corresponding to UH measurements for 20–23.6 weeks, 24.0–35.6 weeks, and >36.0 weeks GA. In phase 1, UH measurements were collected prospectively in the Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Pakistan, using distinct tapes to address variation across regions and ethnicities. In phase 2, we tested accuracy in 250 pregnant women with known GA from early ultrasound enrolled at prenatal clinics in Argentina, India, Pakistan and Zambia. Providers masked to the ultrasound GA measured UH. Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analysis was conducted.
1,029 pregnant women were enrolled. In all countries the tapes were most effective identifying pregnancies between 20.0–35.6 weeks, compared to the other GAs. The ROC areas under the curves and 95% confidence intervals were: Argentina 0.69 (0.63, 0.74); Zambia 0.72 (0.66, 0.78), India 0.84 (0.80, 0.89), and Pakistan 0.83 (0.78, 0.87). The sensitivity and specificity (and 95% confidence intervals) for identifying pregnancies between 20.0–35.6 weeks, respectively, were: Argentina 87% (82%–92%) and 51% (42%–61%); Zambia 91% (86%–95%) and 50% (40%–60%); India 78% (71%–85%) and 89% (83%–94%); Pakistan 63% (55%–70%) and 94% (89%–99%).
We observed moderate-good accuracy identifying pregnancies ≤35.6 weeks gestation, with potential usefulness at the community level in low-middle income countries to facilitate the preterm identification and interventions to reduce preterm neonatal mortality. Further research is needed to validate these findings on a population basis.
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.
Neonatal mortality; low-income countries; preterm birth
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.
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.
Preconception; Maternal; Nutrition; Birth length; Epigenetics; Microbiome
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.
Clinicaltrials.gov (NCT # 01990625)
Maternal mortality; Maternal near miss; Perinatal mortality; Obstetric ultrasound; Low-income countries
To evaluate the evidence for prenatal corticosteroid use in low- and middle-income countries and to make recommendations regarding implementation and further research.
Studies and meta-analyses on prenatal corticosteroids relevant to low- and middle-income countries were identified and reviewed at the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Project (MCHIP) Antenatal Corticosteroid Conference held in Washington on October 19, 2010.
There is strong evidence regarding the effectiveness of prenatal corticosteroid use in hospitals in high- and middle-income countries, usually in settings with high-level newborn care. For births occurring in hospitals in low-income countries without high-level neonatal care or for births outside hospitals, no studies have been conducted to evaluate prenatal corticosteroid use. The efficacy and safety of prenatal corticosteroid use in these settings must be evaluated.
The conference working group recommended expanding the use of prenatal corticosteroids in hospitals with high-level newborn care in low-income countries. For other low-income country settings, further research regarding efficacy and safety should precede the widespread introduction of prenatal corticosteroids.
Low-resource countries; Prenatal corticosteroids; Preterm birth
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.
iron; meat; complementary feeding
Fetal and neonatal mortality rates in low-income countries are at least 10-fold greater than in high-income countries. These differences have been related to poor access to and poor quality of obstetric and neonatal care.
This trial tested the hypothesis that teams of health care providers, administrators and local residents can address the problem of limited access to quality obstetric and neonatal care and lead to a reduction in perinatal mortality in intervention compared to control locations. In seven geographic areas in five low-income and one middle-income country, most with high perinatal mortality rates and substantial numbers of home deliveries, we performed a cluster randomized non-masked trial of a package of interventions that included community mobilization focusing on birth planning and hospital transport, community birth attendant training in problem recognition, and facility staff training in the management of obstetric and neonatal emergencies. The primary outcome was perinatal mortality at ≥28 weeks gestation or birth weight ≥1000 g.
Despite extensive effort in all sites in each of the three intervention areas, no differences emerged in the primary or any secondary outcome between the intervention and control clusters. In both groups, the mean perinatal mortality was 40.1/1,000 births (P = 0.9996). Neither were there differences between the two groups in outcomes in the last six months of the project, in the year following intervention cessation, nor in the clusters that best implemented the intervention.
This cluster randomized comprehensive, large-scale, multi-sector intervention did not result in detectable impact on the proposed outcomes. While this does not negate the importance of these interventions, we expect that achieving improvement in pregnancy outcomes in these settings will require substantially more obstetric and neonatal care infrastructure than was available at the sites during this trial, and without them provider training and community mobilization will not be sufficient. Our results highlight the critical importance of evaluating outcomes in randomized trials, as interventions that should be effective may not be.
Stillbirth; Neonatal mortality; Maternal mortality; Emergency obstetric care
To describe the staffing and availability of medical equipment and medications and the performance of procedures at health facilities providing maternal and neonatal care at African, Asian, and Latin American sites participating in a multicenter trial to improve emergency obstetric/neonatal care in communities with high maternal and perinatal mortality.
In 2009, prior to intervention, we surveyed 136 hospitals and 228 clinics in 7 sites in Africa, Asia, and Latin America regarding staffing, availability of equipment/ medications, and procedures including cesarean section.
The coverage of physicians and nurses/midwives was poor in Africa and Latin America. In Africa, only 20% of hospitals had full-time physicians. Only 70% of hospitals in Africa and Asia had performed cesarean sections in the last 6 months. Oxygen was unavailable in 40% of African hospitals and 17% of Asian hospitals. Blood was unavailable in 80% of African and Asian hospitals.
Assuming that adequate facility services are necessary to improve pregnancy outcomes, it is not surprising that maternal and perinatal mortality rates in the areas surveyed are high. The data presented emphasize that to reduce mortality in these areas, resources that result in improved staffing and sufficient equipment, supplies, and medication, along with training, are required.
emergency obstetric and neonatal care; developing countries; perinatal mortality
To implement a vital statistics registry system to register pregnant women and document birth outcomes in the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research sites in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
The Global Network sites began a prospective population-based pregnancy registry to identify all pregnant women and record pregnancy outcomes up to 42 days post-delivery in more than 100 defined low-resource geographic areas (clusters). Pregnant women were registered during pregnancy, with 42-day maternal and neonatal follow-up recorded—including care received during the pregnancy and postpartum periods. Recorded outcomes included stillbirth, neonatal mortality, and maternal mortality rates.
In 2010, 72 848 pregnant women were enrolled and 6-week follow-up was obtained for 97.8%. Across sites, 40.7%, 24.8%, and 34.5% of births occurred in a hospital, health center, and home setting, respectively. The mean neonatal mortality rate was 23 per 1000 live births, ranging from 8.2 to 48.5 per 1000 live births. The mean stillbirth rate ranged from 13.7 to 54.4 per 1000 births.
The registry is an ongoing study to assess the impact of interventions and trends regarding pregnancy outcomes and measures of care to inform public health.
Maternal mortality; Neonatal mortality; Perinatal mortality; Pregnancy; Registry; Stillbirth
Preterm birth is a major cause of neonatal mortality, responsible for 28% of neonatal deaths overall. The administration of antenatal corticosteroids to women at high risk of preterm birth is a powerful perinatal intervention to reduce neonatal mortality in resource rich environments. The effect of antenatal steroids to reduce mortality and morbidity among preterm infants in hospital settings in developed countries with high utilization is well established, yet they are not routinely used in developing countries. The impact of increasing antenatal steroid use in hospital or community settings with low utilization rates and high infant mortality among premature infants due to lack of specialized services has not been well researched. There is currently no clear evidence about the safety of antenatal corticosteroid use for community-level births.
We hypothesize that a multi country, two-arm, parallel cluster randomized controlled trial to evaluate whether a multifaceted intervention to increase the use of antenatal corticosteroids, including components to improve the identification of pregnancies at high risk of preterm birth and providing and facilitating the appropriate use of steroids, will reduce neonatal mortality at 28 days of life in preterm newborns, compared with the standard delivery of care in selected populations of six countries. 102 clusters in Argentina, Guatemala, Kenya, India, Pakistan, and Zambia will be randomized, and around 60,000 women and newborns will be enrolled. Kits containing vials of dexamethasone, syringes, gloves, and instructions for administration will be distributed. Improving the identification of women at high risk of preterm birth will be done by (1) diffusing recommendations for antenatal corticosteroids use to health providers, (2) training health providers on identification of women at high risk of preterm birth, (3) providing reminders to health providers on the use of the kits, and (4) using a color-coded tape to measure uterine height to estimate gestational age in women with unknown gestational age. In both intervention and control clusters, health providers will be trained in essential newborn care for low birth weight babies. The primary outcome is neonatal mortality at 28 days of life in preterm infants.
ClinicalTrials.gov. Identifier: NCT01084096
Neonatal mortality; Antenatal corticosteroids; Implementation research; Preterm birth
To determine population-based stillbirth rates and to determine whether the timing and maturity of the stillbirths suggest a high proportion of potentially preventable deaths.
Prospective observational study.
Communities in six low-income countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Zambia, Guatemala, India, and Pakistan) and one site in a mid-income country (Argentina).
Pregnant women residing in the study communities.
Over a five-year period, in selected catchment areas, using multiple methodologies, trained study staff obtained pregnancy outcomes on each delivery in their area.
Main outcome measures
Pregnancy outcome, stillbirth characteristics.
Outcomes of 195 400 deliveries were included. Stillbirth rates ranged from 32 per 1 000 in Pakistan to 8 per 1 000 births in Argentina. Three-fourths (76%) of stillbirth off-spring were not macerated, 63% were ≥37 weeks and 48% weighed 2 500g or more. Across all sites, women with no education, of high and low parity, of older age, and without access to antenatal care were at significantly greater risk for stillbirth (p<0.001). Compared to those delivered by a physician, women delivered by nurses and traditional birth attendants had a lower risk of stillbirth.
In these low-middle income countries, most stillbirth offspring were not macerated, were reported as ≥37 weeks’ gestation, and almost half weighed at least 2 500g. With access to better medical care, especially in the intrapartum period, many of these stillbirths could likely be prevented.
Developing countries; intrapartum stillbirth; stillbirth