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1.  Exposure of Pregnant Women to Indoor Air Pollution: A Study from nine low and middle income countries 
We studied exposure to solid fuel smoke and second-hand tobacco smoke among pregnant women in south Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Prospective cross-sectional survey.
Antenatal clinics in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Uruguay, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, India and Pakistan.
A total of 7961 pregnant women in ten sites in nine countries were interviewed between October 2004 and September 2005.
A standardized questionnaire on exposure to indoor air pollution (IAP) and to secondhand smoke was administered to pregnant women during antenatal care.
Main Outcome Measures
Exposure to IAP and second-hand tobacco smoke.
South Asian pregnant women commonly reported use of wood (49.1%–89.7%), crop residue and animal dung for cooking and heating fuel. African pregnant women reported higher use of charcoal (85.4%–93.5%). Latin American pregnant women had greater use of petroleum gas. Among south Asian women, solid fuel use and cooking on an open flame inside the home were common. There was a significant association between solid fuel use and allowing smoking within the home at the Asian sites and in Zambia (p<0.05).
Pregnant women from low/middle income countries were commonly exposed to IAP secondary to use of solid fuels. Among these populations, exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke was also common. This combination of exposures likely increases the risk of poor pregnancy outcomes among the most vulnerable women. Our study highlights the importance of further research on the combined impact of IAP and second-hand tobacco smoke exposures on adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3928066  PMID: 19961275
Pregnancy; indoor air pollution; second-hand tobacco smoke exposure; smoking
2.  A conference report on prenatal corticosteroid use in low- and middle-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.
PMCID: PMC3910250  PMID: 21930269
Low-resource countries; Prenatal corticosteroids; Preterm birth
3.  Death or Neurodevelopmental Impairment at 18 To 22 Months in a Randomized Trial of Early Dexamethasone to Prevent Death or Chronic Lung Disease in Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;164(1):34-39.e2.
To evaluate the incidence of death or neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) at 18 to 22 months corrected age in subjects enrolled in a trial of early dexamethasone treatment to prevent death or chronic lung disease in extremely low birth weight infants.
Evaluation of infants at 18 to 22 months corrected age included anthropomorphic measurements, a standard neurological examination, and the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II, including the Mental Developmental Index (MDI) and the Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI). NDI was defined as moderate or severe cerebral palsy, MDI or PDI less than 70, blindness, or hearing impairment.
Death or NDI at 18 to 22 months corrected age was similar in the dexamethasone and placebo groups (65 vs 66 percent, p= 0.99 among those with known outcome). The proportion of survivors with NDI was also similar, as were mean values for weight, length, and head circumference and the proportion of infants with poor growth (50 vs 41 percent, p=0.42 for weight less than 10th percentile). Forty nine percent of infants in the placebo group received treatment with corticosteroid compared to 32% in the dexamethasone group (p=0.02).
The risk of death or NDI and rate of poor growth were high but similar in the dexamethasone and placebo groups. The lack of a discernible effect of early dexamethasone on neurodevelopmental outcome may be due to frequent clinical corticosteroid use in the placebo group.
PMCID: PMC4120744  PMID: 23992673
neurodevelopmental outcome; growth; bronchopulmonary dysplasia; cerebral palsy; neonatal follow-up
4.  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
5.  Newborn Care Training and Perinatal Mortality in Communities in Developing Countries 
The New England journal of medicine  2010;362(7):614-623.
Ninety-eight percent of the 3.7 million neonatal deaths and 3.3 million stillbirths per year occur in developing countries, and evaluation of community-based interventions is needed.
Using a train-the-trainer model, local instructors trained birth attendants from rural communities in six countries (Argentina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, India, Pakistan, and Zambia) in the World Health Organization Essential Newborn Care course (routine neonatal care, resuscitation, thermoregulation, breastfeeding, kangaroo care, care of the small baby, and common illnesses), and in a modified version of the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program (in depth basic resuscitation), except in Argentina.
The Essential Newborn Care intervention was assessed with a before and after design (N=57, 643). The Neonatal Resuscitation Program intervention was assessed as a cluster randomized controlled trial (N=62,366). The primary outcome was 7-day neonatal mortality.
The 7-day follow-up rate was 99.2%. Following Essential Newborn Care training, there was no significant reduction from baseline in all-cause 7-day neonatal (RR 0.99; CI 0.81, 1.22) or perinatal mortality; there was a significant reduction in the stillbirth rate (RR 0.69; CI 0.54, 0.88; p<0.01). Seven-day neonatal mortality, stillbirth, and perinatal mortality were not reduced in clusters randomized to Neonatal Resuscitation Program training as compared with control clusters.
Seven-day neonatal mortality did not decrease following the introduction of Essential Newborn Care training of community-based birth attendants, although the rate of stillbirths was reduced following this intervention. Subsequent training in the Neonatal Resuscitation Program did not significantly reduce the mortality rates. ( number, NCT00136708).
PMCID: PMC3565382  PMID: 20164485
neonatal mortality; perinatal mortality; developing countries; health systems; effectiveness
6.  Dose of early intervention treatment during children’s first 36 months of life is associated with developmental outcomes: an observational cohort study in three low/low-middle income countries 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14(1):281.
The positive effects of early developmental intervention (EDI) on early child development have been reported in numerous controlled trials in a variety of countries. An important aspect to determining the efficacy of EDI is the degree to which dosage is linked to outcomes. However, few studies of EDI have conducted such analyses. This observational cohort study examined the association between treatment dose and children’s development when EDI was implemented in three low and low-middle income countries as well as demographic and child health factors associated with treatment dose.
Infants (78 males, 67 females) born in rural communities in India, Pakistan, and Zambia received a parent-implemented EDI delivered through biweekly home visits by trainers during the first 36 months of life. Outcome was measured at age 36 months with the Mental (MDI) and Psychomotor (PDI) Development Indices of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II. Treatment dose was measured by number of home visits completed and parent-reported implementation of assigned developmental stimulation activities between visits. Sociodemographic, prenatal, perinatal, and child health variables were measures as correlates.
Average home visits dose exceeded 91% and mothers engaged the children in activities on average 62.5% of days. Higher home visits dose was significantly associated with higher MDI (mean for dose quintiles 1–2 combined = 97.8, quintiles 3–5 combined = 103.4, p = 0.0017). Higher treatment dose was also generally associated with greater mean PDI, but the relationships were non-linear. Location, sociodemographic, and child health variables were associated with treatment dose.
Receiving a higher dose of EDI during the first 36 months of life is generally associated with better developmental outcomes. The higher benefit appears when receiving ≥91% of biweekly home visits and program activities on ≥67% of days over 3 years. It is important to ensure that EDI is implemented with a sufficiently high dose to achieve desired effect. To this end groups at risk for receiving lower dose can be identified and may require special attention to ensure adequate effect.
PMCID: PMC4288653  PMID: 25344731
Treatment dose; Early developmental intervention; Neurodevelopmental disability; Birth asphyxia; Developing countries
7.  A multi-country study of the “intrapartum stillbirth and early neonatal death indicator” in hospitals in low-resource settings 
To determine the feasibility of introducing a simple indicator of quality of obstetric and neonatal care and to determine the proportion of potentially avoidable perinatal deaths in hospitals in low-income countries.
Between September 1, 2011, and February 29, 2012, data were collected from women who had a term pregnancy and were admitted to the labor ward of 1 of 6 hospitals in 4 low-income countries. Fetal heart tones on admission were monitored, and demographic and birth data were recorded.
Data were obtained for 3555 women and 3593 neonates (including twins). The doptone was used on 97% of women admitted. The overall perinatal mortality rate was 34 deaths per 1000 deliveries. Of the perinatal deaths, 40%–45% occurred in the hospital and were potentially preventable by better hospital care.
The results demonstrated that it is possible to accurately determine fetal viability on admission via a doptone. Implementation of doptone use, coupled with a concise data record, might form the basis of a low-cost and sustainable program to monitor and evaluate efforts to improve quality of care and ultimately might to help to reduce the in-hospital component of perinatal mortality in low-income countries.
PMCID: PMC3893914  PMID: 23796259
Doptone; Fetal heart tones; Hospital-based perinatal mortality; Neonatal mortality; Perinatal mortality; Stillbirth
8.  Stillbirth and early neonatal mortality in rural Central Africa 
To develop a prospective perinatal registry that characterizes all deliveries, differentiates between stillbirths and early neonatal deaths (ENDs), and determines the ratio of fresh to macerated stillbirths in the northwest Democratic Republic of Congo.
Birth outcomes were obtained from 4 rural health districts.
A total of 8230 women consented, END rate was 32 deaths per 1000 live births, and stillbirth rate was 33 deaths per 1000 deliveries. The majority (75%) of ENDs and stillbirths occurred in neonates weighing 1500 g or more. Odds of stillbirth and END increased in mothers who were single or who did not receive prenatal care, and among premature, low birth weight, or male infants. The ratio of fresh to macerated stillbirths was 4:1.
Neonates weighing 1500 g or more at birth represent a group with a high likelihood of survival in remote areas, making them potentially amenable to targeted intervention packages. The ratio of fresh to macerated stillbirths was approximately 10-fold higher than expected, suggesting a more prominent role for improved intrapartum obstetric interventions.
PMCID: PMC3972762  PMID: 19201402
Africa; Early neonatal death; Fresh and macerated stillbirth; Low-income country
9.  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.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3582821  PMID: 23164311
Early intervention; resuscitation; intellectual disability; low and middle income countries; neonatal mortality; infant mortality; developmental outcome
10.  Implementation and evaluation of the Helping Babies Breathe curriculum in three resource limited settings: does Helping Babies Breathe save lives? A study protocol 
Neonatal deaths account for over 40% of all under-5 year deaths; their reduction is increasingly critical for achieving Millennium Development Goal 4. An estimated 3 million newborns die annually during their first month of life; half of these deaths occur during delivery or within 24 hours. Every year, 6 million babies require help to breathe immediately after birth. Resuscitation training to help babies breathe and prevent/manage birth asphyxia is not routine in low-middle income facility settings. Helping Babies Breathe (HBB), a simulation-training program for babies wherever they are born, was developed for use in low-middle income countries. We evaluated whether HBB training of facility birth attendants reduces perinatal mortality in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Global Network research sites.
We hypothesize that a two-year prospective pre-post study to evaluate the impact of a facility-based training package, including HBB and essential newborn care, will reduce all perinatal mortality (fresh stillbirth or neonatal death prior to 7 days) among the Global Network’s Maternal Neonatal Health Registry births ≥1500 grams in the study clusters served by the facilities. We will also evaluate the effectiveness of the HBB training program changing on facility-based perinatal mortality and resuscitation practices. Seventy-one health facilities serving 52 geographically-defined study clusters in Belgaum and Nagpur, India, and Eldoret, Kenya, and 30,000 women will be included. Primary outcome data will be collected by staff not involved in the HBB intervention. Additional data on resuscitations, resuscitation debriefings, death audits, quality monitoring and improvement will be collected. HBB training will include training of MTs, facility level birth attendants, and quality monitoring and improvement activities.
Our study will evaluate the effect of a HBB/ENC training and quality monitoring and improvement package on perinatal mortality using a large multicenter design and approach in 71 resource-limited health facilities, leveraging an existing birth registry to provide neonatal outcomes through day 7. The study will provide the evidence base, lessons learned, and best practices that will be essential to guiding future policy and investment in neonatal resuscitation.
Trial registration
Trial registration Identifier: NCT01681017
PMCID: PMC4021423  PMID: 24670013
Neonatal mortality; Perinatal mortality; Asphyxia; Stillbirth; Helping Babies Breathe; Resuscitation; Bag and mask ventilation; ≥1500 grams
11.  Prevalence of Suicidal Thoughts and Attempts Among Pregnant Pakistani Women 
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.
Cross sectional data from a prospective cohort study are presented.
Women enrolled in an antenatal care clinic and followed to delivery in an urban area of Pakistan
Cohort of pregnant women in Pakistan.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3918941  PMID: 21050149
Suicidal thoughts; suicide attempts; pregnancy; abuse; anxiety/depression
12.  High Mortality Rates for Very Low Birth Weight Infants in Developing Countries Despite Training 
Pediatrics  2010;126(5):e1072-e1080.
The goal was to determine the effect of training in newborn care and resuscitation on 7-day (early) neonatal mortality rates for very low birth weight (VLBW) infants. The study was designed to test the hypothesis that these training programs would reduce neonatal mortality rates for VLBW infants.
Local instructors trained birth attendants from 96 rural communities in 6 developing countries in protocol and data collection, the World Health Organization Essential Newborn Care (ENC) course, and a modified version of the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP), by using a train-the-trainer model. To test the impact of ENC training, data on infants of 500 to 1499 g were collected by using a before/after, active baseline, controlled study design. A cluster-randomized, controlled trial design was used to test the impact of the NRP.
A total of 1096 VLBW (500–1499 g) infants were enrolled, and 98.5% of live-born infants were monitored to 7 days. All-cause, 7-day neonatal mortality, stillbirth, and perinatal mortality rates were not affected by ENC or NRP training.
Neither ENC nor NRP training of birth attendants decreased 7-day neonatal, stillbirth, or perinatal mortality rates for VLBW infants born at home or at first-level facilities. Encouragement of delivery in a facility where a higher level of care is available may be preferable when delivery of a VLBW infant is expected.
PMCID: PMC3918943  PMID: 20937655
neonatal mortality; perinatal mortality; stillbirth; developing countries; health care systems; very low birth weight; prematurity
13.  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
14.  Genomic Variability of Monkeypox Virus among Humans, Democratic Republic of the Congo 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(2):232-239.
Health authorities should be vigilant for this rapidly evolving virus.
Monkeypox virus is a zoonotic virus endemic to Central Africa. Although active disease surveillance has assessed monkeypox disease prevalence and geographic range, information about virus diversity is lacking. We therefore assessed genome diversity of viruses in 60 samples obtained from humans with primary and secondary cases of infection from 2005 through 2007. We detected 4 distinct lineages and a deletion that resulted in gene loss in 10 (16.7%) samples and that seemed to correlate with human-to-human transmission (p = 0.0544). The data suggest a high frequency of spillover events from the pool of viruses in nonhuman animals, active selection through genomic destabilization and gene loss, and increased disease transmissibility and severity. The potential for accelerated adaptation to humans should be monitored through improved surveillance.
PMCID: PMC3901482  PMID: 24457084
Monkeypox virus; genomic diversity; emerging infectious disease; genomic reduction; gene loss; Democratic Republic of the Congo; viruses
15.  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.
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.
To determine the prevalence of anxiety and depression and evaluate associated factors, including domestic violence, among pregnant women in an urban community in Pakistan.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3875176  PMID: 19592433
Pregnancy; depression; anxiety; Pakistan; measurement
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.  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.
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.
Trial registration NCT01073488
PMCID: PMC3853358  PMID: 24090370
Stillbirth; Neonatal mortality; Maternal mortality; Emergency obstetric care
18.  Assessment of Obstetric and Neonatal Health Services in Developing Country Health Facilities 
American journal of perinatology  2013;30(9):787-794.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3664648  PMID: 23329566
emergency obstetric and neonatal care; developing countries; perinatal mortality
19.  The Maternal and Newborn Health Registry Study of the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research 
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.
PMCID: PMC3417109  PMID: 22738806
Maternal mortality; Neonatal mortality; Perinatal mortality; Pregnancy; Registry; Stillbirth
20.  Pathogen-Host Associations and Predicted Range Shifts of Human Monkeypox in Response to Climate Change in Central Africa 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e66071.
Climate change is predicted to result in changes in the geographic ranges and local prevalence of infectious diseases, either through direct effects on the pathogen, or indirectly through range shifts in vector and reservoir species. To better understand the occurrence of monkeypox virus (MPXV), an emerging Orthopoxvirus in humans, under contemporary and future climate conditions, we used ecological niche modeling techniques in conjunction with climate and remote-sensing variables. We first created spatially explicit probability distributions of its candidate reservoir species in Africa's Congo Basin. Reservoir species distributions were subsequently used to model current and projected future distributions of human monkeypox (MPX). Results indicate that forest clearing and climate are significant driving factors of the transmission of MPX from wildlife to humans under current climate conditions. Models under contemporary climate conditions performed well, as indicated by high values for the area under the receiver operator curve (AUC), and tests on spatially randomly and non-randomly omitted test data. Future projections were made on IPCC 4th Assessment climate change scenarios for 2050 and 2080, ranging from more conservative to more aggressive, and representing the potential variation within which range shifts can be expected to occur. Future projections showed range shifts into regions where MPX has not been recorded previously. Increased suitability for MPX was predicted in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Models developed here are useful for identifying areas where environmental conditions may become more suitable for human MPX; targeting candidate reservoir species for future screening efforts; and prioritizing regions for future MPX surveillance efforts.
PMCID: PMC3729955  PMID: 23935820
21.  Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Infants Requiring Resuscitation in Developing Countries 
The Journal of Pediatrics  2011;160(5):781-785.e1.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3309169  PMID: 22099522
Resuscitation; intellectual disability; low and middle income countries; neonatal mortality; infant mortality; developmental outcome
22.  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
23.  Novel simian foamy virus infections from multiple monkey species in women from the Democratic Republic of Congo 
Retrovirology  2012;9:100.
Zoonotic transmission of simian retroviruses in Central Africa is ongoing and can result in pandemic human infection. While simian foamy virus (SFV) infection was reported in primate hunters in Cameroon and Gabon, little is known about the distribution of SFV in Africa and whether human-to-human transmission and disease occur. We screened 3,334 plasmas from persons living in rural villages in central Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) using SFV-specific EIA and Western blot (WB) tests. PCR amplification of SFV polymerase sequences from DNA extracted from buffy coats was used to measure proviral loads. Phylogenetic analysis was used to define the NHP species origin of SFV. Participants completed questionnaires to capture NHP exposure information.
Sixteen (0.5%) samples were WB-positive; 12 of 16 were from women (75%, 95% confidence limits 47.6%, 92.7%). Sequence analysis detected SFV in three women originating from Angolan colobus or red-tailed monkeys; both monkeys are hunted frequently in DRC. NHP exposure varied and infected women lived in distant villages suggesting a wide and potentially diverse distribution of SFV infections across DRC. Plasmas from 22 contacts of 8 WB-positive participants were all WB negative suggesting no secondary viral transmission. Proviral loads in the three women ranged from 14 – 1,755 copies/105 cells.
Our study documents SFV infection in rural DRC for the first time and identifies infections with novel SFV variants from Colobus and red-tailed monkeys. Unlike previous studies, women were not at lower risk for SFV infection in our population, providing opportunities for spread of SFV both horizontally and vertically. However, limited testing of close contacts of WB-positive persons did not identify human-to-human transmission. Combined with the broad behavioral risk and distribution of NHPs across DRC, our results suggest that SFV infection may have a wider geographic distribution within DRC. These results also reinforce the potential for an increased SFV prevalence throughout the forested regions of Africa where humans and simians co-exist. Our finding of endemic foci of SFV infection in DRC will facilitate longitudinal studies to determine the potential for person-to-person transmissibility and pathogenicity of these zoonotic retroviral infections.
PMCID: PMC3524035  PMID: 23217108
Simian foamy virus; Retrovirus; Zoonosis; Africa; Women; Transmission; Public health; Emerging
24.  Cytokines and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2011;159(6):919-925.e3.
To determine if selected pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines/mediators of inflammation reported to be related to development of cerebral palsy predict neurodevelopmental outcome in extremely low birth weight infants.
Study design
Infants with birth weights ≤ 1000 g (n=1067) had blood samples collected at birth and on days 3±1, 7±1, 14±3, and 21±3 to examine the association between cytokines and neurodevelopmental outcomes. The analyses were focused on five cytokines (IL-1β, IL-8, TNF-α, RANTES, and IL-2) reported to be most predictive of CP in term and late preterm infants.
IL-8 was higher on days 0–4 and subsequently in infants who developed CP compared with infants who did not develop CP in both unadjusted and adjusted analyses. Other cytokines (IL-12, IL-17, TNF-β, SIL-rα, MIP-1β) were found to be altered on days 0–4 in infants who developed CP.
CP in former preterm infants may, in part, have a late perinatal and/or early neonatal inflammatory origin.
PMCID: PMC3215787  PMID: 21798559
25.  Antenatal corticosteroids trial in preterm births to increase neonatal survival in developing countries: study protocol 
Reproductive Health  2012;9:22.
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.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT01084096
PMCID: PMC3477119  PMID: 22992312
Neonatal mortality; Antenatal corticosteroids; Implementation research; Preterm birth

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