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1.  Randomized Trial of Early Developmental Intervention on Outcomes in Children after Birth Asphyxia in Developing Countries 
The Journal of pediatrics  2012;162(4):705-712.e3.
Objective
To determine if early developmental intervention (EDI) improves developmental abilities in resuscitated children.
Study design
This was a parallel group, randomized controlled trial of infants unresponsive to stimulation who received bag and mask ventilation as part of their resuscitation at birth and infants who did not require any resuscitation born in rural communities in India, Pakistan, and Zambia. Intervention infants received a parent-implemented EDI delivered with home visits by parent trainers every other week for 3 years started the first month after birth. Parents in both intervention and control groups received health and safety counseling during home visits on the same schedule. The main outcome measure was the Mental Development Index (MDI) of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, 2nd edition, assessed at 36 months by evaluators unaware of treatment group and resuscitation history.
Results
MDI was higher in the EDI (102.6±9.8) compared with the control resuscitated children (98.0±14.6, one-sided p=0.0202) but there was no difference between groups in the non-resuscitated children (100.1±10.7 vs. 97.7±10.4, p=0.1392). The Psychomotor Development Index (PDI) was higher in the EDI group for both the resuscitated (p=0.0430) and non-resuscitated children (p=0.0164).
Conclusions
This trial of home-based, parent provided EDI in children resuscitated at birth provides evidence of treatment benefits on cognitive and psychomotor outcomes. MDI and PDI scores of both non-resuscitated and resuscitated infants were within normal range, independent of early intervention.
doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.09.052
PMCID: PMC3582821  PMID: 23164311
Early intervention; resuscitation; intellectual disability; low and middle income countries; neonatal mortality; infant mortality; developmental outcome
2.  Prevalence of Suicidal Thoughts and Attempts Among Pregnant Pakistani Women 
Objective
To determine the prevalence of suicidal thoughts and attempts and to identify demographic variables and mental health correlates such as anxiety/depression and domestic violence among pregnant women in an urban community in Pakistan.
Design
Cross sectional data from a prospective cohort study are presented.
Setting
Women enrolled in an antenatal care clinic and followed to delivery in an urban area of Pakistan
Population
Cohort of pregnant women in Pakistan.
Methods
1,369 pregnant women were enrolled and interviewed regarding various maternal characteristics and pregnancy outcomes, and were asked specific questions about suicidal thoughts and attempts and administered the Aga Khan University Anxiety Depression Scale at 20–26 weeks of gestation.
Main outcome measures
Suicidal thoughts and attempts, verbal, sexual or physical abuse.
Results
Overall, 148 of the 1369 (11%) women studied had considered suicide. Of these, 148 women, 67 (45%) had attempted suicide. Eighteen percent of the women were classified as having depression/anxiety, almost half (48%) reported experiencing verbal abuse and 20% reported physical/sexual abuse. Women who had anxiety/depression or had experienced verbal or physical/sexual abuse were significantly more likely to have had suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Conclusions
Women at greatest risk for having suicidal thoughts or a suicide attempt were those who were depressed/anxious and had experienced some form of domestic abuse. With the high prevalence of these conditions, attention should be given to the establishment of effective mental health treatment programs for pregnant women.
doi:10.3109/00016349.2010.526185
PMCID: PMC3918941  PMID: 21050149
Suicidal thoughts; suicide attempts; pregnancy; abuse; anxiety/depression
3.  Anemia prevalence and risk factors in pregnant women in an urban area of Pakistan 
Food and nutrition bulletin  2008;29(2):132-139.
Background.
Anemia affects almost two-thirds of pregnant women in developing countries and contributes to maternal morbidity and mortality and to low birthweight.
Objective.
To determine the prevalence of anemia and the dietary and socioeconomic factors associated with anemia in pregnant women living in an urban community setting in Hyderabad, Pakistan.
Methods.
This was a prospective, observational study of 1,369 pregnant women enrolled at 20 to 26 weeks of gestation and followed to 6 weeks postpartum. A blood sample was obtained at enrollment to determine hemoglobin levels. Information on nutritional knowledge, attitudes, and practice and dietary history regarding usual food intake before and during pregnancy were obtained by trained interviewers within 1 week of enrollment.
Results.
The prevalence of anemia (defined by the World Health Organization as hemoglobin < 11.0 g/dL) in these subjects was 90.5%; of these, 75.0% had mild anemia (hemoglobin from 9.0 to 10.9 g/dL) and 14.8% had moderate anemia (hemoglobin from 7.0 to 8.9 g/dL). Only 0.7% were severely anemic (hemoglobin < 7.0 g/dL). Nonanemic women were significantly taller, weighed more, and had a higher body mass index. Multivariate analysis after adjustment for education, pregnancy history, iron supplementation, and height showed that drinking more than three cups of tea per day before pregnancy (adjusted prevalence odds ratio [aPOR], 3.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3 to 8.0), consumption of clay or dirt during pregnancy (aPOR, 3.7; 95% CI, 1.1 to 12.3), and never consuming eggs or consuming eggs less than twice a week during pregnancy (aPOR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.5) were significantly associated with anemia. Consumption of red meat less than twice a week prior to pregnancy was marginally associated with anemia (aPOR, 1.2; 95% CI, 0.8 to 1.8) but was significantly associated with lower mean hemoglobin concentrations (9.9 vs. 10.0 g/dL, p = .05) during the study period. A subanalysis excluding women with mild anemia found similar associations to those of the main model, albeit even stronger.
Conclusions.
A high percentage of women at 20 to 26 weeks of pregnancy had mild to moderate anemia. Pica, tea consumption, and low intake of eggs and red meat were associated with anemia. Women of childbearing age should be provided nutritional education regarding food sources of iron, especially prior to becoming pregnant, and taught how food choices can either enhance or interfere with iron absorption.
PMCID: PMC3917507  PMID: 18693477
Anemia; developing countries; pregnancy
4.  Prevalence of Anxiety, Depression and Associated Factors among Pregnant Women of Hyderabad, Pakistan 
The International journal of social psychiatry  2009;55(5):10.1177/0020764008094645.
Background
Few studies have examined the relationship between antenatal depression, anxiety and domestic violence in pregnant women in developing countries, despite the World Health Organization's estimates that depressive disorders will be the second leading cause of the global disease burden by 2020. There is a paucity of research on mood disorders, their predictors and sequelae among pregnant women in Pakistan.
Aims
To determine the prevalence of anxiety and depression and evaluate associated factors, including domestic violence, among pregnant women in an urban community in Pakistan.
Methods
All pregnant women living in identified areas of Hyderabad, Pakistan were screened by government health workers for an observational study on maternal characteristics and pregnancy outcomes. Of these, 1368 (76%) of eligible women were administered the validated Aga Khan University Anxiety Depression Scale at 20–26 weeks of gestation.
Results
18 percent of the women were anxious and/or depressed. Psychological distress was associated with husband unemployment (p=0.032), lower household wealth (p=0.027), having 10 or more years of formal education (p=0.002), a first (p=0.002) and an unwanted pregnancy (p<0.001). The strongest factors associated with depression/anxiety were physical/sexual and verbal abuse; 42% of women who were physically and/or sexually abused and 23% of those with verbal abuse had depression/anxiety compared to 8% of those who were not abused.
Conclusions
Anxiety and depression commonly occur during pregnancy in Pakistani women; rates are highest in women experiencing sexual/physical as well as verbal abuse, but they also are increased among women with unemployed spouses and those with lower household wealth. These results suggest that developing a screening and treatment program for domestic violence and depression/anxiety during pregnancy may improve the mental health status of pregnant Pakistani women.
doi:10.1177/0020764008094645
PMCID: PMC3875176  PMID: 19592433
Pregnancy; depression; anxiety; Pakistan; measurement
5.  EVALUATION OF MEAT AS A FIRST COMPLEMENTARY FOOD FOR BREASTFED INFANTS: IMPACT ON IRON INTAKE & GROWTH 
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.
doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00434.x
PMCID: PMC3875190  PMID: 22043884
iron; meat; complementary feeding
6.  High HIV Incidence among Persons Who Inject Drugs in Pakistan: Greater Risk with Needle Sharing and Injecting Frequently among the Homeless 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81715.
Background
The incidence of HIV among persons who inject drugs (PWIDU) has fallen in many nations, likely due to successes of clean needle/syringe exchange and substance abuse treatment and service programs. However in Pakistan, prevalence rates for PWID have risen dramatically. In several cities, prevalence exceeded 20% by 2009 compared to a 2003 baseline of just 0.5%. However, no cohort study of PWID has ever been conducted.
Methods
We enrolled a cohort of 636 HIV seronegative PWID registered with three drop-in centers that focus on risk reduction and basic social services in Karachi. Recruitment began in 2009 (March to June) and PWID were followed for two years. We measured incidence rates and risk factors associated with HIV seroconversion.
Results
Incidence of HIV was 12.4 per 100 person-years (95% exact Poisson confidence interval [CI]: 10.3–14.9). We followed 474 of 636 HIV seronegative persons (74.5%) for two years, an annual loss to follow-up of <13 per 100 person years. In multivariable Cox regression analysis, HIV seroconversion was associated with non-Muslim religion (Adjusted risk ratio [ARR] = 1.7, 95%CI:1.4, 2.7, p = 0.03), sharing of syringes (ARR = 2.3, 95%CI:1.5, 3.3, p<0.0001), being homeless (ARR = 1.7, 95%CI:1.1, 2.5, p = 0.009), and daily injection of drugs (ARR = 1.1, 95%CI:1.0, 1.3, p = 0.04).
Conclusions
Even though all members of the cohort of PWID were attending risk reduction programs, the HIV incidence rate was very high in Karachi from 2009–2011. The project budget was low, yet we were able to retain three-quarters of the population over two years. Absence of opiate substitution therapy and incomplete needle/syringe exchange coverage undermines success in HIV risk reduction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081715
PMCID: PMC3864804  PMID: 24358123
7.  A combined community- and facility-based approach to improve pregnancy outcomes in low-resource settings: a Global Network cluster randomized trial 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:215.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01073488
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-215
PMCID: PMC3853358  PMID: 24090370
Stillbirth; Neonatal mortality; Maternal mortality; Emergency obstetric care
8.  Assessment of Obstetric and Neonatal Health Services in Developing Country Health Facilities 
American journal of perinatology  2013;30(9):787-794.
Objective
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.
Study Design
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1055/s-0032-1333409
PMCID: PMC3664648  PMID: 23329566
emergency obstetric and neonatal care; developing countries; perinatal mortality
9.  The Maternal and Newborn Health Registry Study of the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research 
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2012.04.022
PMCID: PMC3417109  PMID: 22738806
Maternal mortality; Neonatal mortality; Perinatal mortality; Pregnancy; Registry; Stillbirth
10.  Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Infants Requiring Resuscitation in Developing Countries 
The Journal of Pediatrics  2011;160(5):781-785.e1.
Objective
To determine whether resuscitation of infants who failed to develop effective breathing at birth increases survivors with neurodevelopmental impairment.
Study design
Infants unresponsive to stimulation who received bag and mask ventilation at birth in a resuscitation trial and infants who did not require any resuscitation were randomized to early neurodevelopmental intervention or control. Infants were evaluated by trained neurodevelopmental evaluators masked to both their resuscitation history and intervention group. The 12-month neurodevelopmental outcome data for both resuscitated and non-resuscitated infants randomized to the control groups are reported.
Results
The study provided no evidence of a difference between the resuscitated (N = 86) and the non-resuscitated infants (N = 115) in the percentage of infants at 12 months with a mental developmental index < 85 on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II (primary outcome) (18% versus 12%; p = 0.22) and in other neurodevelopmental outcomes.
Conclusions
The overwhelming majority of infants who received resuscitation with bag and mask ventilation at birth have 12-month neurodevelopmental outcomes in the normal range. Longer follow-up is needed because of increased risk for neurodevelopmental impairments.
doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2011.10.007
PMCID: PMC3309169  PMID: 22099522
Resuscitation; intellectual disability; low and middle income countries; neonatal mortality; infant mortality; developmental outcome
11.  Antenatal corticosteroids trial in preterm births to increase neonatal survival in developing countries: study protocol 
Reproductive Health  2012;9:22.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov. Identifier: NCT01084096
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-9-22
PMCID: PMC3477119  PMID: 22992312
Neonatal mortality; Antenatal corticosteroids; Implementation research; Preterm birth
12.  Epidemiology of stillbirth in low-middle income countries: A Global Network Study 
Objective
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.
Design
Prospective observational study.
Setting
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).
Population
Pregnant women residing in the study communities.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1111/j.1600-0412.2011.01275.x
PMCID: PMC3412613  PMID: 21916854
Developing countries; intrapartum stillbirth; stillbirth
13.  Home birth attendants in low income countries: who are they and what do they do? 
Background
Nearly half the world’s babies are born at home. We sought to evaluate the training, knowledge, skills, and access to medical equipment and testing for home birth attendants across 7 international sites.
Methods
Face-to-face interviews were done by trained interviewers to assess level of training, knowledge and practices regarding care during the antenatal, intrapartum and postpartum periods. The survey was administered to a sample of birth attendants conducting home or out-of-facility deliveries in 7 sites in 6 countries (India, Pakistan, Guatemala, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Zambia).
Results
A total of 1226 home birth attendants were surveyed. Less than half the birth attendants were literate. Eighty percent had one month or less of formal training. Most home birth attendants did not have basic equipment (e.g., blood pressure apparatus, stethoscope, infant bag and mask manual resuscitator). Reporting of births and maternal and neonatal deaths to government agencies was low. Indian auxilliary nurse midwives, who perform some home but mainly clinic births, were far better trained and differed in many characteristics from the birth attendants who only performed deliveries at home.
Conclusions
Home birth attendants in low-income countries were often illiterate, could not read numbers and had little formal training. Most had few of the skills or access to tests, medications and equipment that are necessary to reduce maternal, fetal or neonatal mortality.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-34
PMCID: PMC3493311  PMID: 22583622
Home births; Traditional birth attendants; Perinatal mortality
14.  Dating gestational age by last menstrual period, symphysis-fundal height, and ultrasound in urban Pakistan 
Objective
To compare the accuracy of the reported date of the last menstrual period (LMP) with that of symphysis-fundal height (SFH) in the estimation of gestational age (GA), using an ultrasound (US) scan as reference.
Methods
Gestational age was concurrently assessed by the 3 methods in this prospective, population-based, pregnancy-outcome study conducted in Hyderabad, Pakistan, from June 18, 2003, through August 31, 2005, with 1128 women between 20 and 26 weeks of a singleton pregnancy.
Results
The mean GA was less by ultrasound than by SFH measurement or the reported LMP, and the mean differences with the US result were statistically significant (P <0.001 for both). At delivery, about 75% of the GA values estimated by SFH measurement were within 7 days and almost 91% were within 14 days of the estimation by ultrasound, compared with 65% and 82% for the GA estimated by the reported LMP. Moreover, using the US as reference, the SFH correctly classified 84% of the term, 68% of the preterm, and 86% of the post-term deliveries (weighted κ = 0.58) compared with the corresponding 79%, 61%, and 55% predicted by the reported LMP (weighted κ = 0.44).
Conclusion
The SFH measurement was found to be more accurate than the reported LMP as a tool to estimate GA and therefore date of delivery, but neither were as accurate as a US scan.
doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2010.03.030
PMCID: PMC2914118  PMID: 20537328
Gestational age; Last menstrual period; Pakistan; Symphysis-fundal height; Ultrasound
15.  Classifying perinatal mortality using verbal autopsy: is there a role for nonphysicians? 
Background
Because of a physician shortage in many low-income countries, the use of nonphysicians to classify perinatal mortality (stillbirth and early neonatal death) using verbal autopsy could be useful.
Objective
To determine the extent to which underlying perinatal causes of deaths assigned by nonphysicians in Guatemala, Pakistan, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo using a verbal autopsy method are concordant with underlying perinatal cause of death assigned by physician panels.
Methods
Using a train-the-trainer model, 13 physicians and 40 nonphysicians were trained to determine cause of death using a standardized verbal autopsy training program. Subsequently, panels of two physicians and individual nonphysicians from this trained cohort independently reviewed verbal autopsy data from a sample of 118 early neonatal deaths and 134 stillbirths. With the cause of death assigned by the physician panel as the reference standard, sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and cause-specific mortality fractions were calculated to assess nonphysicians' coding responses. Robustness criteria to assess how well nonphysicians performed were used.
Results
Causes of early neonatal death and stillbirth assigned by nonphysicians were concordant with physician-assigned causes 47% and 57% of the time, respectively. Tetanus filled robustness criteria for early neonatal death, and cord prolapse filled robustness criteria for stillbirth.
Conclusions
There are significant differences in underlying cause of death as determined by physicians and nonphysicians even when they receive similar training in cause of death determination. Currently, it does not appear that nonphysicians can be used reliably to assign underlying cause of perinatal death using verbal autopsy.
doi:10.1186/1478-7954-9-42
PMCID: PMC3160935  PMID: 21819582
16.  Complementary feeding: a Global Network cluster randomized controlled trial 
BMC Pediatrics  2011;11:4.
Background
Inadequate and inappropriate complementary feeding are major factors contributing to excess morbidity and mortality in young children in low resource settings. Animal source foods in particular are cited as essential to achieve micronutrient requirements. The efficacy of the recommendation for regular meat consumption, however, has not been systematically evaluated.
Methods/Design
A cluster randomized efficacy trial was designed to test the hypothesis that 12 months of daily intake of beef added as a complementary food would result in greater linear growth velocity than a micronutrient fortified equi-caloric rice-soy cereal supplement. The study is being conducted in 4 sites of the Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research located in Guatemala, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Zambia in communities with toddler stunting rates of at least 20%. Five clusters per country were randomized to each of the food arms, with 30 infants in each cluster. The daily meat or cereal supplement was delivered to the home by community coordinators, starting when the infants were 6 months of age and continuing through 18 months. All participating mothers received nutrition education messages to enhance complementary feeding practices delivered by study coordinators and through posters at the local health center. Outcome measures, obtained at 6, 9, 12, and 18 months by a separate assessment team, included anthropometry; dietary variety and diversity scores; biomarkers of iron, zinc and Vitamin B12 status (18 months); neurocognitive development (12 and 18 months); and incidence of infectious morbidity throughout the trial. The trial was supervised by a trial steering committee, and an independent data monitoring committee provided oversight for the safety and conduct of the trial.
Discussion
Findings from this trial will test the efficacy of daily intake of meat commencing at age 6 months and, if beneficial, will provide a strong rationale for global efforts to enhance local supplies of meat as a complementary food for young children.
Trial registration
NCT01084109
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-4
PMCID: PMC3032692  PMID: 21232139
17.  Communities, birth attendants and health facilities: a continuum of emergency maternal and newborn care (the global network's EmONC trial) 
Background
Maternal and newborn mortality rates remain unacceptably high, especially where the majority of births occur in home settings or in facilities with inadequate resources. The introduction of emergency obstetric and newborn care services has been proposed by several organizations in order to improve pregnancy outcomes. However, the effectiveness of emergency obstetric and neonatal care services has never been proven. Also unproven is the effectiveness of community mobilization and community birth attendant training to improve pregnancy outcomes.
Methods/Design
We have developed a cluster-randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of a comprehensive intervention of community mobilization, birth attendant training and improvement of quality of care in health facilities on perinatal mortality in low and middle-income countries where the majority of births take place in homes or first level care facilities. This trial will take place in 106 clusters (300-500 deliveries per year each) across 7 sites of the Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research in Argentina, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Pakistan and Zambia. The trial intervention has three key elements, community mobilization, home-based life saving skills for communities and birth attendants, and training of providers at obstetric facilities to improve quality of care. The primary outcome of the trial is perinatal mortality. Secondary outcomes include rates of stillbirth, 7-day neonatal mortality, maternal death or severe morbidity (including obstetric fistula, eclampsia and obstetrical sepsis) and 28-day neonatal mortality.
Discussion
In this trial, we are evaluating a combination of interventions including community mobilization and facility training in an attempt to improve pregnancy outcomes. If successful, the results of this trial will provide important information for policy makers and clinicians as they attempt to improve delivery services for pregnant women and newborns in low-income countries.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01073488
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-82
PMCID: PMC3017016  PMID: 21156060
18.  Brain Research to Ameliorate Impaired Neurodevelopment - Home-based Intervention Trial (BRAIN-HIT) 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:27.
Background
This randomized controlled trial aims to evaluate the effects of an early developmental intervention program on the development of young children in low- and low-middle-income countries who are at risk for neurodevelopmental disability because of birth asphyxia. A group of children without perinatal complications are evaluated in the same protocol to compare the effects of early developmental intervention in healthy infants in the same communities. Birth asphyxia is the leading specific cause of neonatal mortality in low- and low-middle-income countries and is also the main cause of neonatal and long-term morbidity including mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Mortality and morbidity from birth asphyxia disproportionately affect more infants in low- and low-middle-income countries, particularly those from the lowest socioeconomic groups. There is evidence that relatively inexpensive programs of early developmental intervention, delivered during home visit by parent trainers, are capable of improving neurodevelopment in infants following brain insult due to birth asphyxia.
Methods/Design
This trial is a block-randomized controlled trial that has enrolled 174 children with birth asphyxia and 257 without perinatal complications, comparing early developmental intervention plus health and safety counseling to the control intervention receiving health and safety counseling only, in sites in India, Pakistan, and Zambia. The interventions are delivered in home visits every two weeks by parent trainers from 2 weeks after birth until age 36 months. The primary outcome of the trial is cognitive development, and secondary outcomes include social-emotional and motor development. Child, parent, and family characteristics and number of home visits completed are evaluated as moderating factors.
Discussion
The trial is supervised by a trial steering committee, and an independent data monitoring committee monitors the trial. Findings from this trial have the potential to inform about strategies for reducing neurodevelopmental disabilities in at-risk young children in low and middle income countries.
Trial Registration
Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00639184
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-27
PMCID: PMC2873519  PMID: 20433740
19.  Stillbirths in an Urban Community in Pakistan 
Objective
To determine stillbirth risk factors and gestational age at delivery in a prospective developing country birth cohort.
Study Design
1369 Pakistani women were prospectively enrolled at 20 - 26 weeks, the gestational age determined by ultrasound, and risk factors and pregnancy outcomes assessed.
Results
The stillbirth rate was 33.6/1000 births despite 96% of women receiving prenatal care, 83% attended by skilled providers in hospital and a 20% cesarean section rate. 51% of stillbirths occurred ≥ 37 weeks and 19% from 34-36 weeks. Only 4% had congenital anomalies. Hemoglobin < 8 g/dL, vaginal bleeding and preeclampsia were associated with increased stillbirth risk.
Conclusions
In this developing country with reasonable technical resources defined by hospital delivery and a high cesarean section rate, stillbirth rates were much higher than US rates. That most of the stillbirths were term, did not have congenital anomalies and the demise appeared to be recent, suggests that many Pakistani stillbirths may be preventable with higher quality obstetric care.
doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2007.07.012
PMCID: PMC2150567  PMID: 17826410
stillbirth; obstetrical care; developing countries
20.  Role of gender in health disparity: the South Asian context 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;328(7443):823-826.
South Asia's girls and women do not have the same life advantage as their Western counterparts. A human rights based approach may help to overcome gender related barriers and improve the wellbeing of men, women, and children.
PMCID: PMC383384  PMID: 15070642

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