Publications by authors named "Rajiv Bahl"

141 Publications

Scaling up Kangaroo Mother Care in Ethiopia and India: a multi-site implementation research study.

BMJ Glob Health 2021 Sep;6(9)

Sachs' Children and Youth Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

Objectives: Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), prolonged skin-to-skin care of the low birth weight baby with the mother plus exclusive breastfeeding reduces neonatal mortality. Global KMC coverage is low. This study was conducted to develop and evaluate context-adapted implementation models to achieve improved coverage.

Design: This study used mixed-methods applying implementation science to develop an adaptable strategy to improve implementation. Formative research informed the initial model which was refined in three iterative cycles. The models included three components: (1) maximising access to KMC-implementing facilities, (2) ensuring KMC initiation and maintenance in facilities and (3) supporting continuation at home postdischarge.

Participants: 3804 infants of birth weight under 2000 g who survived the first 3 days, were available in the study area and whose mother resided in the study area.

Main Outcome Measures: The primary outcomes were coverage of KMC during the 24 hours prior to discharge and at 7 days postdischarge.

Results: Key barriers and solutions were identified for scaling up KMC. The resulting implementation model achieved high population-based coverage. KMC initiation reached 68%-86% of infants in Ethiopian sites and 87% in Indian sites. At discharge, KMC was provided to 68% of infants in Ethiopia and 55% in India. At 7 days postdischarge, KMC was provided to 53%-65% of infants in all sites, except Oromia (38%) and Karnataka (36%).

Conclusions: This study shows how high coverage of KMC can be achieved using context-adapted models based on implementation science. They were supported by government leadership, health workers' conviction that KMC is the standard of care, women's and families' acceptance of KMC, and changes in infrastructure, policy, skills and practice.

Trial Registration Numbers: ISRCTN12286667; CTRI/2017/07/008988; NCT03098069; NCT03419416; NCT03506698.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2021-005905DOI Listing
September 2021

Association of maternal prenatal selenium concentration and preterm birth: a multicountry meta-analysis.

BMJ Glob Health 2021 Sep;6(9)

Center for Public Health Kinetics, New Delhi, India.

Background: Selenium (Se), an essential trace mineral, has been implicated in preterm birth (PTB). We aimed to determine the association of maternal Se concentrations during pregnancy with PTB risk and gestational duration in a large number of samples collected from diverse populations.

Methods: Gestational duration data and maternal plasma or serum samples of 9946 singleton live births were obtained from 17 geographically diverse study cohorts. Maternal Se concentrations were determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry analysis. The associations between maternal Se with PTB and gestational duration were analysed using logistic and linear regressions. The results were then combined using fixed-effect and random-effect meta-analysis.

Findings: In all study samples, the Se concentrations followed a normal distribution with a mean of 93.8 ng/mL (SD: 28.5 ng/mL) but varied substantially across different sites. The fixed-effect meta-analysis across the 17 cohorts showed that Se was significantly associated with PTB and gestational duration with effect size estimates of an OR=0.95 (95% CI: 0.9 to 1.00) for PTB and 0.66 days (95% CI: 0.38 to 0.94) longer gestation per 15 ng/mL increase in Se concentration. However, there was a substantial heterogeneity among study cohorts and the random-effect meta-analysis did not achieve statistical significance. The largest effect sizes were observed in UK (Liverpool) cohort, and most significant associations were observed in samples from Malawi.

Interpretation: While our study observed statistically significant associations between maternal Se concentration and PTB at some sites, this did not generalise across the entire cohort. Whether population-specific factors explain the heterogeneity of our findings warrants further investigation. Further evidence is needed to understand the biologic pathways, clinical efficacy and safety, before changes to antenatal nutritional recommendations for Se supplementation are considered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2021-005856DOI Listing
September 2021

Machine learning guided postnatal gestational age assessment using new-born screening metabolomic data in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2021 Sep 7;21(1):609. Epub 2021 Sep 7.

Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing, Avenue Appia 20, 1211, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: Babies born early and/or small for gestational age in Low and Middle-income countries (LMICs) contribute substantially to global neonatal and infant mortality. Tracking this metric is critical at a population level for informed policy, advocacy, resources allocation and program evaluation and at an individual level for targeted care. Early prenatal ultrasound examination is not available in these settings, gestational age (GA) is estimated using new-born assessment, last menstrual period (LMP) recalls and birth weight, which are unreliable. Algorithms in developed settings, using metabolic screen data, provided GA estimates within 1-2 weeks of ultrasonography-based GA. We sought to leverage machine learning algorithms to improve accuracy and applicability of this approach to LMICs settings.

Methods: This study uses data from AMANHI-ACT, a prospective pregnancy cohorts in Asia and Africa where early pregnancy ultrasonography estimated GA and birth weight are available and metabolite screening data in a subset of 1318 new-borns were also available. We utilized this opportunity to develop machine learning (ML) algorithms. Random Forest Regressor was used where data was randomly split into model-building and model-testing dataset. Mean absolute error (MAE) and root mean square error (RMSE) were used to evaluate performance. Bootstrap procedures were used to estimate confidence intervals (CI) for RMSE and MAE. For pre-term birth identification ROC analysis with bootstrap and exact estimation of CI for area under curve (AUC) were performed.

Results: Overall model estimated GA had MAE of 5.2 days (95% CI 4.6-6.8), which was similar to performance in SGA, MAE 5.3 days (95% CI 4.6-6.2). GA was correctly estimated to within 1 week for 85.21% (95% CI 72.31-94.65). For preterm birth classification, AUC in ROC analysis was 98.1% (95% CI 96.0-99.0; p < 0.001). This model performed better than Iowa regression, AUC Difference 14.4% (95% CI 5-23.7; p = 0.002).

Conclusions: Machine learning algorithms and models applied to metabolomic gestational age dating offer a ladder of opportunity for providing accurate population-level gestational age estimates in LMICs settings. These findings also point to an opportunity for investigation of region-specific models, more focused feasible analyte models, and broad untargeted metabolome investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12884-021-04067-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8424940PMC
September 2021

Implementation research on management of sick young infants with possible serious bacterial infection when referral is not possible in Jimma Zone, Ethiopia: Challenges and solutions.

PLoS One 2021 9;16(8):e0255210. Epub 2021 Aug 9.

School of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia.

Introduction: Of 2.5 million newborn deaths each year, serious neonatal infections are a leading cause of neonatal death for which inpatient treatment is recommended. However, manysick newborns in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia do not have access to inpatientcare. A World Health Organization (WHO) guideline recommends simplified antibiotic treatment atan outpatient level for young infants up to two months of age with possible serious bacterial infection (PSBI), when referral is not feasible.We implemented this guidelinein Ethiopia to increase coverage of treatment and to learn about potential facilitating factors and barriers for implementation.

Methods: We conducted implementation research in two districts (Tiro Afata and Gera) in Jimma Zone, Ethiopia, to learn about the feasibility of implementing the WHO PSBI guideline within a programme setting using the existing health care structure. We conducted orientation meetings and policy dialogue with key stakeholders and trained health extension workers and health centre staff to identify and manage sick young infants with PSBI signs at a primary health care unit. We established a Technical Support Unit (TSU) to facilitate programme learning, built health workers' capacity and provided support for quality control, monitoring and data collection.We sensitized the community to appropriate care-seeking and supported the health care system in implementation. The research team collected data using structured case recording forms.

Results: From September 2016 to August 2017, 6185 live births and 601 sick young infants 0-59 days of age with signs of PSBI were identified. Assuming that 25% of births were missed (total births 7731) and 10% of births had an episode of PSBI in the first two months of life, the coverage of appropriate treatment for PSBI was 77.7% (601/773). Of 601 infants with PSBI, fast breathing only (pneumonia) was recorded in 432 (71.9%) infants 7-59 days of age; signs of clinical severe infection (CSI) in 155 (25.8%) and critical illnessin 14 (2.3%). Of the 432 pneumonia cases who received oral amoxicillin treatment without referral, 419 (97.0%) were successfully treated without any deaths. Of 169 sick young infants with either CSI or critical illness, only 110 were referred to a hospital; 83 did not accept referral advice and received outpatient injectable gentamicin plus oral amoxicillin treatment either at a health post or health centre. Additionally, 59 infants who should have been referred, but were not received injectable gentamicin plus oral amoxicillin outpatient treatment. Of infants with CSI, 129 (82.2%) were successfully treated as outpatients, while two died (1.3%). Of 14 infants with critical illness, the caregivers of five accepted referral to a hospital, and nine were treated with simplified antibiotics on an outpatient basis. Two of 14 (14.3%) infants with critical illness died within 14 days of initial presentation.

Conclusion: In settings where referral to a hospital is not feasible, young infants with PSBI can be treated on an outpatient basis at either a health post or health centre, which can contribute to saving many lives. Scaling-up will require health system strengthening including community mobilization.

Registration: Trial is registered on Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials registry (ANZCTR) ACTRN12617001373369.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0255210PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8351942PMC
August 2021

Using AMANHI-ACT cohorts for external validation of Iowa new-born metabolic profiles based models for postnatal gestational age estimation.

J Glob Health 2021 17;11:04044. Epub 2021 Jul 17.

World Health Organization (MCA/MRD), Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: Globally, 15 million infants are born preterm and another 23.2 million infants are born small for gestational age (SGA). Determining burden of preterm and SGA births, is essential for effective planning, modification of health policies and targeting interventions for reducing these outcomes for which accurate estimation of gestational age (GA) is crucial. Early pregnancy ultrasound measurements, last menstrual period and post-natal neonatal examinations have proven to be not feasible or inaccurate. Proposed algorithms for GA estimation in western populations, based on routine new-born screening, though promising, lack validation in developing country settings. We evaluated the hypothesis that models developed in USA, also predicted GA in cohorts of South Asia (575) and Sub-Saharan Africa (736) with same precision.

Methods: Dried heel prick blood spots collected 24-72 hours after birth from 1311 new-borns, were analysed for standard metabolic screen. Regression algorithm based, GA estimates were computed from metabolic data and compared to first trimester ultrasound validated, GA estimates (gold standard).

Results: Overall Algorithm (metabolites + birthweight) estimated GA to within an average deviation of 1.5 weeks. The estimated GA was within the gold standard estimate by 1 and 2 weeks for 70.5% and 90.1% new-borns respectively. Inclusion of birthweight in the metabolites model improved discriminatory ability of this method, and showed promise in identifying preterm births. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis estimated an area under curve of 0.86 (conservative bootstrap 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.83 to 0.89);  < 0.001) and Youden Index of 0.58 (95% CI = 0.51 to 0.64) with a corresponding sensitivity of 80.7% and specificity of 77.6%.

Conclusion: Metabolic gestational age dating offers a novel means for accurate population-level gestational age estimates in LMIC settings and help preterm birth surveillance initiatives. Further research should focus on use of machine learning and newer analytic methods broader than conventional metabolic screen analytes, enabling incorporation of region-specific analytes and cord blood metabolic profiles models predicting gestational age accurately.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.04044DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8285766PMC
August 2021

Improving quality of care for pregnancy, perinatal and newborn care at district and sub-district public health facilities in three districts of Haryana, India: An Implementation study.

PLoS One 2021 23;16(7):e0254781. Epub 2021 Jul 23.

Department of Health and Family Welfare, Office of Chief Medical Officer and Civil Surgeon (Rewari), Government of Haryana, Rewari, Haryana, India.

Introduction: Improving quality of care (QoC) for childbirth and sick newborns is critical for maternal and neonatal mortality reduction. Information on the process and impact of quality improvement at district and sub-district hospitals in India is limited. This implementation research was prioritized by the Haryana State (India) to improve the QoC for maternal and newborn care at the busy hospitals in districts.

Methods: This study at nine district and sub-district referral hospitals in three districts (Faridabad, Rewari and Jhajjar) during April 2017-March 2019 adopted pre-post, quasi-experimental study design and plan-do-study-act quality improvement method. During the six quarterly plan-do-study-act cycles, the facility and district quality improvement teams led the gap identification, solution planning and implementation with external facilitation. The external facilitators monitored and collected data on indicators related to maternal and newborn service availability, patient satisfaction, case record quality, provider's knowledge and skills during the cycles. These indicators were compared between baseline (pre-intervention) and endline (post-intervention) cycles for documenting impact.

Results: The interventions closed 50% of gaps identified, increased the number of deliveries (1562 to 1631 monthly), improved care of pregnant women in labour with hypertension (1.2% to 3.9%, p<0.01) and essential newborn care services at birth (achieved ≥90% at most facilities). Antenatal identification of high-risk pregnancies increased from 4.1% to 8.8% (p<0.01). Hand hygiene practices improved from 35.7% to 58.7% (p<0.01). The case record completeness improved from 66% to 87% (p<0.01). The time spent in antenatal clinics declined by 19-42 minutes (p<0.01). The pooled patient satisfaction scores improved from 82.5% to 95.5% (p<0.01). Key challenges included manpower shortage, staff transfers, leadership change and limited orientation for QoC.

Conclusion: This multipronged quality improvement strategy improved the maternal and newborn services, case documentation and patient satisfaction at district and sub-district hospitals. The processes and lessons learned shall be useful for replicating and scaling up.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0254781PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8301676PMC
July 2021

Lessons from implementation research on community management of Possible Serious Bacterial Infection (PSBI) in young infants (0-59 days), when the referral is not feasible in Palwal district of Haryana, India.

PLoS One 2021 7;16(7):e0252700. Epub 2021 Jul 7.

Retired World Health Organization Staff, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: Neonatal sepsis is a major cause of death in India, which needs hospital management but many families cannot access hospitals. The World Health Organization and the Government of India developed a guideline to manage possible serious bacterial infection (PSBI) when a referral is not feasible. We implemented this guideline to achieve high coverage of treatment of PSBI with low mortality.

Methodology: The implementation research study was conducted in over 50 villages of Palwal district, Haryana during August 2017-March 2019 and covered a population of 199143. Policy dialogue with central, state and district health authorities was held before initiation of the study. A baseline assessment of the barriers in the implementation of the PSBI intervention was conducted. The intervention was implemented in the program setting. The research team collected data throughout and also co-participated in the implementation of the intervention for the first six months to identify bottlenecks in the health system and at the community level. RE-AIM framework was utilized to document implementation strategies of PSBI management guideline. Implementation strategies by the district technical support unit (TSU) included: (i) empower mothers and families through social mobilization to improve care-seeking of sick young infants 0-59 days of age, (ii) build capacity through training and build confidence through technical support of health staff at primary health centers (PHC), community health centers (CHC) and sub-centers to manage young infants with PSBI signs and (iii) improve performance of accredited social health activists (ASHAs).

Findings: A total of 370 young infants with signs of PSBI were identified and managed in 5270 live births. Treatment coverage was 70% assuming that 10% of live births would have PSBI within the first two months of life. Mothers identified 87.6% (324/370) of PSBI cases. PHCs and CHCs became functional and managed 150 (40%) sick young infants with PSBI. Twenty four young infants (7-59days) who had only fast breathing were treated with oral amoxicillin without a referral. Referral to a hospital was refused by 126 (84%); 119 had clinical severe infection (CSI), one 0-6 days old had fast breathing and six had critical illness (CI). Of 119 CSI cases managed on outpatient injection gentamicin and oral amoxicillin, 116 (96.7%) recovered, 55 (45.8%) received all seven gentamicin injections and only one died. All 7-59 day old infants with fast breathing recovered, 23 on outpatient oral amoxicillin treatment; and 19 (79%) received all doses. Of 65 infants managed at either district or tertiary hospital, two (3.1%) died, rest recovered. Private providers managed 155 (41.9%) PSBI cases, all except one recovered, but sub-classification and treatment were unknown. Sub-centers could not be activated to manage PSBI.

Conclusion: The study demonstrated resolution of implementation bottlenecks with existing resources, activated PHCs and CHCs to manage CSI and fast breathers (7-59 day old) on an outpatient basis with low mortality when a referral was not feasible. TSU was instrumental in these achievements. We established the effectiveness of oral amoxicillin alone in 7-59 days old fast breathers and recommend a review of the current national policy.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0252700PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8279773PMC
July 2021

Clinical signs of possible serious infection and associated mortality among young infants presenting at first-level health facilities.

PLoS One 2021 30;16(6):e0253110. Epub 2021 Jun 30.

Department of Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: The World Health Organization recommends inpatient hospital treatment of young infants up to two months old with any sign of possible serious infection. However, each sign may have a different risk of death. The current study aims to calculate the case fatality ratio for infants with individual or combined signs of possible serious infection, stratified by inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Methods: We analysed data from the African Neonatal Sepsis Trial conducted in five sites in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Nigeria. Trained study nurses classified sick infants as pneumonia (fast breathing in 7-59 days old), severe pneumonia (fast breathing in 0-6 days old), clinical severe infection [severe chest indrawing, high (> = 38°C) or low body temperature (<35.5°C), stopped feeding well, or movement only when stimulated] or critical illness (convulsions, not able to feed at all, or no movement at all), and referred them to a hospital for inpatient treatment. Infants whose caregivers refused referral received outpatient treatment. The case fatality ratio by day 15 was calculated for individual and combined clinical signs and stratified by place of treatment. An infant with signs of clinical severe infection or severe pneumonia was recategorised as having low- (case fatality ratio ≤2%) or moderate- (case fatality ratio >2%) mortality risk.

Results: Of 7129 young infants with a possible serious infection, fast breathing (in 7-59 days old) was the most prevalent sign (26%), followed by high body temperature (20%) and severe chest indrawing (19%). Infants with pneumonia had the lowest case fatality ratio (0.2%), followed by severe pneumonia (2.0%), clinical severe infection (2.3%) and critical illness (16.9%). Infants with clinical severe infection had a wide range of case fatality ratios for individual signs (from 0.8% to 11.0%). Infants with pneumonia had similar case fatality ratio for outpatient and inpatient treatment (0.2% vs. 0.3%, p = 0.74). Infants with clinical severe infection or severe pneumonia had a lower case fatality ratio among those who received outpatient treatment compared to inpatient treatment (1.9% vs. 6.5%, p<0.0001). We recategorised infants into low-mortality risk signs (case fatality ratio ≤2%) of clinical severe infection (high body temperature, or severe chest indrawing) or severe pneumonia and moderate-mortality risk signs (case fatality ratio >2%) (stopped feeding well, movement only when stimulated, low body temperature or multiple signs of clinical severe infection). We found that both categories had four times lower case fatality ratio when treated as outpatient than inpatient treatment, i.e., 1.0% vs. 4.0% (p<0.0001) and 5.3% vs. 22.4% (p<0.0001), respectively. In contrast, infants with signs of critical illness had nearly two times higher case fatality ratio when treated as outpatient versus inpatient treatment (21.7% vs. 12.1%, p = 0.097).

Conclusions: The mortality risk differs with clinical signs. Young infants with a possible serious infection can be grouped into those with low-mortality risk signs (high body temperature, or severe chest indrawing or severe pneumonia); moderate-mortality risk signs (stopped feeding well, movement only when stimulated, low body temperature or multiple signs of clinical severe infection), or high-mortality risk signs (signs of critical illness). New treatment strategies that consider differential mortality risks for the place of treatment and duration of inpatient treatment could be developed and evaluated based on these findings.

Clinical Trial Registration: This trial was registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry under ID ACTRN 12610000286044.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0253110PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8244884PMC
June 2021

Direct maternal morbidity and the risk of pregnancy-related deaths, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa: A population-based prospective cohort study in 8 countries.

PLoS Med 2021 06 28;18(6):e1003644. Epub 2021 Jun 28.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.

Background: Maternal morbidity occurs several times more frequently than mortality, yet data on morbidity burden and its effect on maternal, foetal, and newborn outcomes are limited in low- and middle-income countries. We aimed to generate prospective, reliable population-based data on the burden of major direct maternal morbidities in the antenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal periods and its association with maternal, foetal, and neonatal death in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods And Findings: This is a prospective cohort study, conducted in 9 research sites in 8 countries of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. We conducted population-based surveillance of women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years) to identify pregnancies. Pregnant women who gave consent were include in the study and followed up to birth and 42 days postpartum from 2012 to 2015. We used standard operating procedures, data collection tools, and training to harmonise study implementation across sites. Three home visits during pregnancy and 2 home visits after birth were conducted to collect maternal morbidity information and maternal, foetal, and newborn outcomes. We measured blood pressure and proteinuria to define hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and woman's self-report to identify obstetric haemorrhage, pregnancy-related infection, and prolonged or obstructed labour. Enrolled women whose pregnancy lasted at least 28 weeks or those who died during pregnancy were included in the analysis. We used meta-analysis to combine site-specific estimates of burden, and regression analysis combining all data from all sites to examine associations between the maternal morbidities and adverse outcomes. Among approximately 735,000 women of reproductive age in the study population, and 133,238 pregnancies during the study period, only 1.6% refused consent. Of these, 114,927 pregnancies had morbidity data collected at least once in both antenatal and in postnatal period, and 114,050 of them were included in the analysis. Overall, 32.7% of included pregnancies had at least one major direct maternal morbidity; South Asia had almost double the burden compared to sub-Saharan Africa (43.9%, 95% CI 27.8% to 60.0% in South Asia; 23.7%, 95% CI 19.8% to 27.6% in sub-Saharan Africa). Antepartum haemorrhage was reported in 2.2% (95% CI 1.5% to 2.9%) pregnancies and severe postpartum in 1.7% (95% CI 1.2% to 2.2%) pregnancies. Preeclampsia or eclampsia was reported in 1.4% (95% CI 0.9% to 2.0%) pregnancies, and gestational hypertension alone was reported in 7.4% (95% CI 4.6% to 10.1%) pregnancies. Prolonged or obstructed labour was reported in about 11.1% (95% CI 5.4% to 16.8%) pregnancies. Clinical features of late third trimester antepartum infection were present in 9.1% (95% CI 5.6% to 12.6%) pregnancies and those of postpartum infection in 8.6% (95% CI 4.4% to 12.8%) pregnancies. There were 187 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 births, 27 stillbirths per 1,000 births, and 28 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births with variation by country and region. Direct maternal morbidities were associated with each of these outcomes.

Conclusions: Our findings imply that health programmes in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia must intensify their efforts to identify and treat maternal morbidities, which affected about one-third of all pregnancies and to prevent associated maternal and neonatal deaths and stillbirths.

Trial Registration: The study is not a clinical trial.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003644DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8277068PMC
June 2021

Immediate "Kangaroo Mother Care" and Survival of Infants with Low Birth Weight.

N Engl J Med 2021 05;384(21):2028-2038

The affiliations of the members of the writing committee are as follows: the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health, and Ageing, World Health Organization, Geneva (S.P.N.R., S.Y., N.M., H.V.J., H.T., R.B.); Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital (S.A., P.M., N.C., J.S., P.A., K.N., I.S., K.C.A., H.C.) and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (M.J.S.), New Delhi, and Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad (N.W.) - all in India; Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (H.N., E.A., A.M.) and Muhimbili National Hospital (M.N., R.M.) - both in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; the University of Malawi, College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi (K.K., L.G., A.T.M., V.S., Q.D.); Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria (C.H.A., O.K., B.P.K., E.A.A.); Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (S.N., R.L.-R., D.A., G.P.-R.) and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (A.B.-Y., N.W.-B., I.N.), Kumasi, and the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Accra (A.A.M.) - all in Ghana; Karolinska University Hospital (A.L.) and Karolinska Institute (N.B., A.L., B.W.), Stockholm; the Institute for Safety Governance and Criminology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa (B.M.); and Stavanger University Hospital, Stavanger, Norway (S.R.).

Background: "Kangaroo mother care," a type of newborn care involving skin-to-skin contact with the mother or other caregiver, reduces mortality in infants with low birth weight (<2.0 kg) when initiated after stabilization, but the majority of deaths occur before stabilization. The safety and efficacy of kangaroo mother care initiated soon after birth among infants with low birth weight are uncertain.

Methods: We conducted a randomized, controlled trial in five hospitals in Ghana, India, Malawi, Nigeria, and Tanzania involving infants with a birth weight between 1.0 and 1.799 kg who were assigned to receive immediate kangaroo mother care (intervention) or conventional care in an incubator or a radiant warmer until their condition stabilized and kangaroo mother care thereafter (control). The primary outcomes were death in the neonatal period (the first 28 days of life) and in the first 72 hours of life.

Results: A total of 3211 infants and their mothers were randomly assigned to the intervention group (1609 infants with their mothers) or the control group (1602 infants with their mothers). The median daily duration of skin-to-skin contact in the neonatal intensive care unit was 16.9 hours (interquartile range, 13.0 to 19.7) in the intervention group and 1.5 hours (interquartile range, 0.3 to 3.3) in the control group. Neonatal death occurred in the first 28 days in 191 infants in the intervention group (12.0%) and in 249 infants in the control group (15.7%) (relative risk of death, 0.75; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.64 to 0.89; P = 0.001); neonatal death in the first 72 hours of life occurred in 74 infants in the intervention group (4.6%) and in 92 infants in the control group (5.8%) (relative risk of death, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.58 to 1.04; P = 0.09). The trial was stopped early on the recommendation of the data and safety monitoring board owing to the finding of reduced mortality among infants receiving immediate kangaroo mother care.

Conclusions: Among infants with a birth weight between 1.0 and 1.799 kg, those who received immediate kangaroo mother care had lower mortality at 28 days than those who received conventional care with kangaroo mother care initiated after stabilization; the between-group difference favoring immediate kangaroo mother care at 72 hours was not significant. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number, ACTRN12618001880235; Clinical Trials Registry-India number, CTRI/2018/08/015369.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2026486DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8108485PMC
May 2021

Effect of Community-Initiated Kangaroo Mother Care on Postpartum Depressive Symptoms and Stress Among Mothers of Low-Birth-Weight Infants: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

JAMA Netw Open 2021 04 1;4(4):e216040. Epub 2021 Apr 1.

Centre for Health Research and Development, Society for Applied Studies, New Delhi, India.

Importance: Approximately 1 in 5 women in low- and middle-income countries experience postpartum depression, and the risk is higher among mothers of low-birth-weight (LBW) infants. Kangaroo mother care (KMC) is effective in improving survival among LBW infants, but the benefits of KMC for mothers are not well described.

Objective: To estimate the effects of community-initiated KMC (ciKMC) on maternal risk of moderate-to-severe postpartum depressive symptoms and on salivary cortisol concentration, a biomarker of stress.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This was an unmasked, parallel-group, individually randomized clinical trial. Participants included 1950 mothers of stable LBW infants (weighing 1500-2250 g) in rural and semiurban low-income populations in North India enrolled between April 2017 and March 2018. Data analysis was performed from January to July 2020.

Interventions: Eligible participants were randomly assigned to the intervention or control group by block randomization. The mothers in the intervention group were supported to practice ciKMC until 28 days after birth or until the infant wriggled out of the KMC position (ie, was no longer staying in the KMC position). The intervention included promotion and support of skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breastfeeding through home visits.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Postpartum depressive symptoms at the end of the neonatal period were measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, with a score of 10 or higher used to identify moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms. Salivary cortisol concentration was measured in a subsample of 550 mothers before and after breastfeeding on day 28 after birth.

Results: Of the 1950 participants (mean [SD] age, 23 [3.5] years), outcome assessment was completed for 974 of 1047 participants (93%) in the intervention group and 852 of 903 participants (94%) in the control group. Sixty-four percent of participants (1175 of 1826 participants) belonged to the lowest 3 wealth quintiles. The proportion of mothers with moderate-to-severe postpartum depressive symptoms was 10.8% (95% CI, 8.9%-12.9%; 105 of 974 mothers) in the intervention group vs 13.6% (95% CI, 11.4%-16.1%; 116 of 852 mothers) in the control group. The adjusted relative risk of moderate-to-severe maternal postpartum depressive symptoms was 0.75 (95% CI, 0.59-0.96), or an efficacy of 25%. There was no difference in day-28 salivary cortisol concentration between the ciKMC and control group mothers before or after breastfeeding. The analysis estimated that supporting 36 mothers to perform KMC at home would prevent 1 mother from experiencing moderate-to-severe postpartum depressive symptoms.

Conclusions And Relevance: These findings suggest that ciKMC practice may substantially reduce the risk of moderate-to-severe maternal postpartum depressive symptoms. This evidence supports KMC as an intervention to be incorporated in essential newborn care programs in low- and middle-income settings.

Trial Registration: Clinical Trials Registry-India Identifier: CTRI/2017/04/008430.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.6040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8063066PMC
April 2021

Antenatal Dexamethasone for Early Preterm Birth in Low-Resource Countries. Reply.

N Engl J Med 2021 04;384(16):e58

World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc2102042DOI Listing
April 2021

Diagnostic measures for severe acute malnutrition in Indian infants under 6 months of age: a secondary data analysis.

BMC Pediatr 2021 04 1;21(1):158. Epub 2021 Apr 1.

Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: Weight for length z-score (WLZ) < - 3 is currently used to define severe acute malnutrition (SAM) among infants. However, this approach has important limitations for infants younger than 6 months of age as WLZ cannot be calculated using WHO growth standards if infant length is < 45 cm. Moreover, length for age z-score (LAZ) and weight for length z-score (WLZ) are least reliable measures, with high chances of variation, and less chances of detecting undernutrition in under 6 months infants. The objective of the current analysis was to compare WLZ with WAZ and LAZ in a cohort of Indian infants in predicting the deaths between 6 weeks and 6 months of age.

Methods: The data was from an individually randomized trial conducted in slums of Delhi, India in which infants' weight and length were measured at 6 weeks of age (at the time of the first immunization visit). Vital status of the infants was documented from 6 weeks to 6 months of age. The sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and positive and negative likelihood ratios were calculated for WAZ < -3, WLZ < -3, and LAZ < -3 for deaths between 6 weeks and 6 months of age. The receiver operating characteristics curve was calculated for each of the above anthropometric indicators.

Results: For deaths occurring between 6 weeks to 6 months of age, the specificity ranged between 85.9-95.9% for all three anthropometric indicators. However, the sensitivity was considerably higher for WAZ; it was 64.6% for WAZ < -3, 39.1% for LAZ < -3, and 25.0% for WLZ < -3. WAZ < -3 had higher area under curve (0.75; 95% CI: 0.68, 0.82) and hence, better discriminated deaths between 6 weeks and 6 months of age than WLZ < -3. The adjusted relative risk (RR 10.6, 95% CI 5.9, 18.9) and the population attributable fraction (PAF 57.9, 95% CI 38.8, 71.0%) of mortality was highest for WAZ < -3.

Conclusions: We found WAZ < -3 at 6 weeks of age to be a better predictor of death in the 6 weeks to 6 months of life in comparison to WLZ < -3 and LAZ < -3 and propose that it should be considered to diagnose SAM in this age group.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12887-021-02629-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8017622PMC
April 2021

Management of possible serious bacterial infection in young infants where referral is not possible in the context of existing health system structure in Ibadan, South-west Nigeria.

PLoS One 2021 30;16(3):e0248720. Epub 2021 Mar 30.

Department of Paediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Introduction: Neonatal infections contribute substantially to infant mortality in Nigeria and globally. Management requires hospitalization, which is not accessible to many in low resource settings. World Health Organization developed a guideline to manage possible serious bacterial infection (PSBI) in young infants up to two months of age when a referral is not feasible. We evaluated the feasibility of implementing this guideline to achieve high coverage of treatment.

Methods: This implementation research was conducted in out-patient settings of eight primary health care centres (PHC) in Lagelu Local Government Area (LGA) of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. We conducted policy dialogue with the Federal and State officials to adopt the WHO guideline within the existing programme setting and held orientation and sensitization meetings with communities. We established a Technical Support Unit (TSU), built the capacity of health care providers, supervised and mentored them, monitored the quality of services and collected data for management and outcomes of sick young infants with PSBI signs. The Primary Health Care Directorate of the state ministry and the local government led the implementation and provided technical support. The enablers and barriers to implementation were documented.

Results: From 1 April 2016 to 31 July 2017 we identified 5278 live births and of these, 1214 had a sign of PSBI. Assuming 30% of births were missed due to temporary migration to maternal homes for delivery care and approximately 45% cases came from outside the catchment area due to free availability of medicines, the treatment coverage was 97.3% (668 cases/6861 expected births) with an expected 10% PSBI prevalence within the first 2 months of life. Of 1214 infants with PSBI, 392 (32%) infants 7-59 days had only fast breathing (pneumonia), 338 (27.8%) infants 0-6 days had only fast breathing (severe pneumonia), 462 (38%) presented with signs of clinical severe infection (CSI) and 22 (1.8%) with signs of critical illness. All but two, 7-59 days old infants with pneumonia were treated with oral amoxicillin without a referral; 80% (312/390) adhered to full treatment; 97.7% (381/390) were cured, and no deaths were reported. Referral to the hospital was not accepted by 87.7% (721/822) families of infants presenting with signs of PSBI needing hospitalization (critical illness 5/22; clinical severe infection; 399/462 and severe pneumonia 317/338). They were treated on an outpatient basis with two days of injectable gentamicin and seven days of oral amoxicillin. Among these 81% (584/721) completed treatment; 97% (700/721) were cured, and three deaths were reported (two with critical illness and one with clinical severe infection). We identified health system gaps including lack of staff motivation and work strikes, medicines stockouts, sub-optimal home visits that affected implementation.

Conclusions: When a referral is not feasible, outpatient treatment for young infants with signs of PSBI is possible within existing programme structures in Nigeria with high coverage and low case fatality. To scale up this intervention successfully, government commitment is needed to strengthen the health system, motivate and train health workers, provide necessary commodities, establish technical support for implementation and strengthen linkages with communities.

Registration: Trial is registered on Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) ACTRN12617001373369.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0248720PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8009401PMC
March 2021

Preterm care during the COVID-19 pandemic: A comparative risk analysis of neonatal deaths averted by kangaroo mother care versus mortality due to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

EClinicalMedicine 2021 Mar 15;33:100733. Epub 2021 Feb 15.

Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive and Child Health Centre, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, United Kingdom.

Background: COVID-19 is disrupting health services for mothers and newborns, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Preterm newborns are particularly vulnerable. We undertook analyses of the benefits of kangaroo mother care (KMC) on survival among neonates weighing ≤2000 g compared with the risk of SARS-CoV-2 acquired from infected mothers/caregivers.

Methods: We modelled two scenarios over 12 months. Scenario 1 compared the survival benefits of KMC with universal coverage (99%) and mortality risk due to COVID-19. Scenario 2 estimated incremental deaths from reduced coverage and complete disruption of KMC. Projections were based on the most recent data for 127 LMICs (~90% of global births), with results aggregated into five regions.

Findings: Our worst-case scenario (100% transmission) could result in 1,950 neonatal deaths from COVID-19. Conversely, 125,680 neonatal lives could be saved with universal KMC coverage. Hence, the benefit of KMC is 65-fold higher than the mortality risk of COVID-19. If recent evidence of 10% transmission was applied, the ratio would be 630-fold. We estimated a 50% reduction in KMC coverage could result in 12,570 incremental deaths and full disruption could result in 25,140 incremental deaths, representing a 2·3-4·6% increase in neonatal mortality across the 127 countries.

Interpretation: The survival benefit of KMC far outweighs the small risk of death due to COVID-19. Preterm newborns are at risk, especially in LMICs where the consequences of disruptions are substantial. Policymakers and healthcare professionals need to protect services and ensure clearer messaging to keep mothers and newborns together, even if the mother is SARS-CoV-2-positive.

Funding: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Elma Philanthropies; Wellcome Trust; and Joint Global Health Trials scheme of Department of Health and Social Care, Department for International Development, Medical Research Council, and Wellcome Trust.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.100733DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7955179PMC
March 2021

Costs and cost-effectiveness of management of possible serious bacterial infections in young infants in outpatient settings when referral to a hospital was not possible: Results from randomized trials in Africa.

PLoS One 2021 15;16(3):e0247977. Epub 2021 Mar 15.

Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Introduction: Serious bacterial neonatal infections are a major cause of global neonatal mortality. While hospitalized treatment is recommended, families cannot access inpatient treatment in low resource settings. Two parallel randomized control trials were conducted at five sites in three countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Nigeria) to compare the effectiveness of treatment with experimental regimens requiring fewer injections with a reference regimen A (injection gentamicin plus injection procaine penicillin both once daily for 7 days) on the outpatient basis provided to young infants (0-59 days) with signs of possible serious bacterial infection (PSBI) when the referral was not feasible. Costs were estimated to quantify the financial implications of scaleup, and cost-effectiveness of these regimens.

Methods: Direct economic costs (including personnel, drugs and consumable costs) were estimated for identification, prenatal and postnatal visits, assessment, classification, treatment and follow-up. Data on time spent by providers on each activity was collected from 83% of providers. Indirect marginal financial costs were estimated for non-consumables/capital, training, transport, communication, administration and supervision by considering only a share of the total research and health system costs considered important for the program. Total economic costs (direct plus indirect) per young infant treated were estimated based on 39% of young infants enrolled in the trial during 2012 and the number of days each treated during one year. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was calculated using treatment failure after one week as the outcome indicator. Experimental regimens were compared to the reference regimen and pairwise comparisons were also made.

Results: The average costs of treating a young infant with clinical severe infection (a sub-category of PSBI) in 2012 was lowest with regimen D (injection gentamicin once daily for 2 days plus oral amoxicillin twice daily for 7 days) at US$ 20.9 (95% CI US$ 16.4-25.3) or US$ 32.5 (2018 prices). While all experimental regimens B (injection gentamicin once daily plus oral amoxicillin twice daily, both for 7 days), regimen C (once daily of injection gentamicin injection plus injection procaine penicillin for 2 days, thereafter oral amoxicillin twice daily for 5 days) and regimen D were found to be more cost-effective as compared with the reference regimen A; pairwise comparison showed regimen D was more cost-effective than B or C. For fast breathing, the average cost of treatment with regimen E (oral amoxicillin twice daily for 7 days) at US$ 18.3 (95% CI US$ 13.4-23.3) or US$ 29.0 (2018 prices) was more cost-effective than regimen A. Indirect costs were 32% of the total treatment costs.

Conclusion: Scaling up of outpatient treatment for PSBI when the referral is not feasible with fewer injections and oral antibiotics is cost-effective for young infants and can lead to increased access to treatment resulting in potential reductions in neonatal mortality.

Clinical Trial Registration: The trial was registered with Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry under ID ACTRN 12610000286044.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0247977PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7959374PMC
March 2021

A public health approach for deciding policy on infant feeding and mother-infant contact in the context of COVID-19.

Lancet Glob Health 2021 04 22;9(4):e552-e557. Epub 2021 Feb 22.

International Center for Equity in Health, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil.

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concern about the possibility and effects of mother-infant transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through breastfeeding and close contact. The insufficient available evidence has resulted in differing recommendations by health professional associations and national health authorities. We present an approach for deciding public health policy on infant feeding and mother-infant contact in the context of COVID-19, or for future emerging viruses, that balances the risks that are associated with viral infection against child survival, lifelong health, and development, and also maternal health. Using the Lives Saved Tool, we used available data to show how different public health approaches might affect infant mortality. Based on existing evidence, including population and survival estimates, the number of infant deaths in low-income and middle-income countries due to COVID-19 (2020-21) might range between 1800 and 2800. By contrast, if mothers with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection are recommended to separate from their newborn babies and avoid or stop breastfeeding, additional deaths among infants would range between 188 000 and 273 000.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30538-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7906661PMC
April 2021

Prevalence of clinical signs of possible serious bacterial infection and mortality associated with them from population-based surveillance of young infants from birth to 2 months of age.

PLoS One 2021 24;16(2):e0247457. Epub 2021 Feb 24.

Department of Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: Community-based data on the prevalence of clinical signs of possible serious bacterial infection (PSBI) and the mortality associated with them are scarce. The aim was to examine the prevalence for each sign of infection and mortality associated with infants in the first two months of life, using community surveillance through community health workers (CHW).

Methods: We used population-based surveillance data of infants up to two months of age from the African Neonatal Sepsis Trial (AFRINEST). In this study, CHWs visited infants up to 10 times during the first two months of life at five sites in three sub-Saharan African countries. CHW assessed the infant for signs of infection (local or systemic) and referred infants who presented with any sign of infection to a health facility. We used a longitudinal analysis to calculate the risk of death associated with the presence of a sign of infection at the time of the visit until the subsequent visit.

Results: During the first two months of their life, CHWs visited 84,759 live-born infants at least twice. In 11,089 infants (13.1%), one or more signs of infection were identified, of which 237 (2.1%) died. A sign of infection was detected at 2.1% of total visits. In 52% of visits, infants had one or more sign of systemic infection, while 25% had fast breathing in 7-59 days period and 23% had a local infection. All signs of infection, including multiple signs, were more frequently seen in the first week of life. The risk of mortality was very low (0.2%) for local infections and fast breathing in 7-59 days old, it was low for fast breathing 0-6 days old (0.6%), high body temperature (0.7%) and severe chest indrawing (1.0%), moderate for low body temperature (4.9%) and stopped feeding well/not able to feed at all (5.0%) and high for movement only when stimulated or no movement at all (10%) and multiple signs of systemic infection (15.5%). The risk of death associated with most clinical signs was higher (1.5 to 9 times) in the first week of life than at later age, except for low body temperature (4 times lower) as well as high body temperature (2 times lower).

Conclusion: Signs of infections are common in the first two months of life. The mortality risk differs with clinical signs and can be grouped as very low (local infections, fast breathing 7-59 days), low (fever, severe chest indrawing and fast breathing 0-6 days), moderate (low body temperature and stopped feeding well/not able to feed at all) and high (for movements only on stimulation or no movements at all and multiple signs of infection). New treatment strategies that consider differential mortality risk could be developed and evaluated based on these findings.

Clinical Trial Registration: The trial was registered with Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry under ID ACTRN 12610000286044.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0247457PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7904202PMC
August 2021

Impact of nutritional interventions among lactating mothers on the growth of their infants in the first 6 months of life: a randomized controlled trial in Delhi, India.

Am J Clin Nutr 2021 04;113(4):884-894

Center for Health Research and Development, Society for Applied Studies, New Delhi, India.

Background: In lower-middle-income settings, growth faltering in the first 6 mo of life occurs despite exclusive breastfeeding.

Objective: The aim was to test the efficacy of an approach to improve the dietary adequacy of mothers during lactation and thus improve the growth of their infants.

Methods: Eligible mother-infant dyads (infants ≤7 d of age) were randomly assigned to either intervention or control groups. Mothers in the intervention group received snacks that were to be consumed daily, which provided 600 kcal of energy-with 25-30% of energy derived from fats (150-180 kcal) and 13% of energy from protein (80 kcal). Micronutrients were supplemented as daily tablets. We provided counseling on breastfeeding and infant-care practices to mothers in both groups. The primary outcome was attained infant length-for-age z scores (LAZ) at 6 mo of age. Secondary outcomes included exclusive breastfeeding proportion reported by the mother, maternal BMI and midupper arm circumference (MUAC), hemoglobin concentrations in mothers and infants, and the proportion of anemic infants at 6 mo of age.

Results: We enrolled 816 mother-infant dyads. The intervention did not achieve a significant effect on LAZ at 6 mo (adjusted mean difference: 0.09; 95% CI: -0.03, 0.20). Exclusive breastfeeding at 5 mo was higher (45.1% vs. 34.5%; RR: 1.31; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.64) in the intervention group compared with the controls. There were no significant effects on mean hemoglobin concentration or the proportion of anemic infants at 6 mo of age compared with the control group. We noted significant effects on maternal nutritional status (BMI, MUAC, hemoglobin concentration, and proportion anemic).

Conclusions: Postnatal supplementation of 600 kcal energy, 20 g protein, and multiple micronutrients daily to lactating mothers did not affect infant LAZ at age 6 mo. Such supplementation may improve maternal nutritional status. This trial was registered at Clinical Trials Registry-India as CTRI/2018/04/013095.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqaa383DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8023824PMC
April 2021

Innovative approach for potential scale-up to jump-start simplified management of sick young infants with possible serious bacterial infection when a referral is not feasible: Findings from implementation research.

PLoS One 2021 5;16(2):e0244192. Epub 2021 Feb 5.

School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia.

Background: Neonatal bacterial infections are a common cause of death, which can be managed well with inpatient treatment. Unfortunately, many families in low resource settings do not accept referral to a hospital. The World Health Organization (WHO) developed a guideline for management of young infants up to 2 months of age with possible serious bacterial infection (PSBI) when referral is not feasible. Government of Ethiopia with WHO evaluated the feasibility of implementing this guideline to increase coverage of treatment.

Objective: The objective of this study was to implement a simplified antibiotic regimen (2 days gentamicin injection and 7 days oral amoxicillin) for management of sick young infants with PSBI in a programme setting when referral was not feasible to identify at least 80% of PSBI cases, achieve an overall adequate treatment coverage of at least 80% and document the challenges and opportunities for implementation at the community level in two districts in Tigray, Ethiopia.

Methods: Using implementation research, we applied the PSBI guideline in a programme setting from January 2016 to August 2017 in Raya Alamata and Raya Azebo Woredas (districts) in Southern Tigray, Ethiopia with a population of 260884. Policy dialogue was held with decision-makers, programme implementers and stakeholders at federal, regional and district levels, and a Technical Support Unit (TSU) was established. Health Extension Workers (HEWs) working at the health posts and supervisors working at the health centres were trained in WHO guideline to manage sick young infants when referral was not feasible. Communities were sensitized towards appropriate home care.

Results: We identified 854 young infants with any sign of PSBI in the study population of 7857 live births. The expected live births during the study period were 9821. Assuming 10% of neonates will have any sign of PSBI within the first 2 months of life (n = 982), the coverage of appropriate treatment of PSBI cases in our study area was 87% (854/982). Of the 854 sick young infants, 333 (39%) were taken directly to a hospital and 521 (61%) were identified by HEW at health posts. Of the 521 young infants, 27 (5.2%) had signs of critical illness, 181 (34.7%) had signs of clinical severe infection, whereas 313 (60.1%) young infants 7-59 days of age had only fast breathing pneumonia. All young infants with critical illness accepted referral to a hospital, while 117/181 (64.6%) infants with clinical severe infection accepted referral. Families of 64 (35.3%) infants with clinical severe infection refused referral and were treated at the health post with injectable gentamicin for 2 days plus oral amoxicillin for 7 days. All 64 completed recommended gentamicin doses and 63/64 (98%) completed recommended amoxicillin doses. Of 313 young infants, 7-59 days with pneumonia who were treated by the HEWs without referral with oral amoxicillin for 7 days, 310 (99%) received all 14 doses. No deaths were reported among those treated on an outpatient basis at health posts. But 35/477 (7%) deaths occurred among young infants treated at hospital.

Conclusions: When referral is not feasible, young infants with PSBI can be managed appropriately at health posts by HEWs in the existing health system in Ethiopia with high coverage, low treatment failure and a low case fatality rate. Moreover, fast breathing pneumonia in infants 7-59 days of age can be successfully treated at the health post without referral. Relatively higher mortality in sick young infants at the referral level health facilities warrants further investigation.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0244192PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7864440PMC
July 2021

Management of possible serious bacterial infection in young infants closer to home when referral is not feasible: Lessons from implementation research in Himachal Pradesh, India.

PLoS One 2020 22;15(12):e0243724. Epub 2020 Dec 22.

Centre for Health Research and Development, Society for Applied Studies, Kalu Sarai, New Delhi, India.

Background: Government of India and the World Health Organization have guidelines for outpatient management of young infants 0-59 days with signs of Possible Serious Bacterial Infection (PSBI), when referral is not feasible. Implementation research was conducted to identify facilitators and barriers to operationalizing these guidelines.

Methods: Himachal Pradesh government implemented the guidelines in program settings supported by Centre for Health Research and Development, Society for Applied Studies. The strategy included community sensitization, skill enhancement of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) and Medical Officers (MOs) to identify PSBI and treat when referral was not feasible. The research team collected information on facilitators and barriers. A technical support unit provided training and oversight.

Findings: Among 1997 live births from June 2017 to January 2019, we identified 160 cases of PSBI in young infants resulting in a coverage of 80%, assuming an incidence of 10%. Of these,29(18.1%) had signs of critical illness (CI), 92 (57.5%) had clinical severe infection (CSI), 5 (3.1%)had severe pneumonia (only fast breathing in young infants 0-6 days), while 34 (21%) had pneumonia (only fast breathing in young infants 7-59 days). Hospital referral was accepted by 48/160 (30%), whereas 112/160 (70%) were treated with the simplified treatment regimens at primary level facilities. Of the 29 infants with CI, 18 (62%) accepted referral; 26 (90%) recovered while 3 (10%) who had accepted referral, died. Of the 92 infants who had CSI, 86 (93%) recovered, 65 (71%) received simplified treatment and one infant who had accepted referral, died. All the five infants who had severe pneumonia, recovered; 3 (60%) had received simplified treatment. Of the 34 pneumonia cases, 33 received simplified treatment of which 5 (15%) failed treatment; two out of these 5 died. Overall, 6/160 infants died (case-fatality-rate 3.4%); 2 in the simplified treatment (case-fatality-rate 1.8%) and 4 in the hospital group (case-fatality-rate 8.3%). Delayed identification and care-seeking by families and health system weaknesses like manpower gaps and interrupted supplies were challenges in implementation.

Conclusions: Implementation of the guidelines in program settings is possible and acceptable. Scaling up would require creating community awareness, early identification and appropriate care-seeking, strengthening ASHA home-visitation program, building skills and confidence of MOs and ANMs, uninterrupted supplies and a dependable referral system.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0243724PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7755274PMC
February 2021

Multiomics Characterization of Preterm Birth in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.

JAMA Netw Open 2020 12 1;3(12):e2029655. Epub 2020 Dec 1.

Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan.

Importance: Worldwide, preterm birth (PTB) is the single largest cause of deaths in the perinatal and neonatal period and is associated with increased morbidity in young children. The cause of PTB is multifactorial, and the development of generalizable biological models may enable early detection and guide therapeutic studies.

Objective: To investigate the ability of transcriptomics and proteomics profiling of plasma and metabolomics analysis of urine to identify early biological measurements associated with PTB.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This diagnostic/prognostic study analyzed plasma and urine samples collected from May 2014 to June 2017 from pregnant women in 5 biorepository cohorts in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs; ie, Matlab, Bangladesh; Lusaka, Zambia; Sylhet, Bangladesh; Karachi, Pakistan; and Pemba, Tanzania). These cohorts were established to study maternal and fetal outcomes and were supported by the Alliance for Maternal and Newborn Health Improvement and the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth biorepositories. Data were analyzed from December 2018 to July 2019.

Exposures: Blood and urine specimens that were collected early during pregnancy (median sampling time of 13.6 weeks of gestation, according to ultrasonography) were processed, stored, and shipped to the laboratories under uniform protocols. Plasma samples were assayed for targeted measurement of proteins and untargeted cell-free ribonucleic acid profiling; urine samples were assayed for metabolites.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The PTB phenotype was defined as the delivery of a live infant before completing 37 weeks of gestation.

Results: Of the 81 pregnant women included in this study, 39 had PTBs (48.1%) and 42 had term pregnancies (51.9%) (mean [SD] age of 24.8 [5.3] years). Univariate analysis demonstrated functional biological differences across the 5 cohorts. A cohort-adjusted machine learning algorithm was applied to each biological data set, and then a higher-level machine learning modeling combined the results into a final integrative model. The integrated model was more accurate, with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) of 0.83 (95% CI, 0.72-0.91) compared with the models derived for each independent biological modality (transcriptomics AUROC, 0.73 [95% CI, 0.61-0.83]; metabolomics AUROC, 0.59 [95% CI, 0.47-0.72]; and proteomics AUROC, 0.75 [95% CI, 0.64-0.85]). Primary features associated with PTB included an inflammatory module as well as a metabolomic module measured in urine associated with the glutamine and glutamate metabolism and valine, leucine, and isoleucine biosynthesis pathways.

Conclusions And Relevance: This study found that, in LMICs and high PTB settings, major biological adaptations during term pregnancy follow a generalizable model and the predictive accuracy for PTB was augmented by combining various omics data sets, suggesting that PTB is a condition that manifests within multiple biological systems. These data sets, with machine learning partnerships, may be a key step in developing valuable predictive tests and intervention candidates for preventing PTB.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.29655DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7749442PMC
December 2020

Predictors of recovery in children aged 6-59 months with uncomplicated severe acute malnutrition: a multicentre study.

Public Health Nutr 2021 Oct 23;24(15):4899-4907. Epub 2020 Nov 23.

Department of Community Health, Christian Medical College, Vellore, TN, India.

Objective: To identify predictors of recovery in children with uncomplicated severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

Design: This is a secondary data analysis from an individual randomised controlled trial, where children with uncomplicated SAM were randomised to three feeding regimens, namely ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) sourced from Compact India, locally prepared RUTF or augmented home-prepared foods, under two age strata (6-17 months and 18-59 months) for 16 weeks or until recovery. Three sets of predictors that could influence recovery, namely child, family and nutritional predictors, were analysed.

Setting: Rural and urban slum areas of three states of India, namely Rajasthan, Delhi and Tamil Nadu.

Participants: In total, 906 children (age: 6-59 months) were analysed to estimate the adjusted hazard ratio (AHR) using the Cox proportional hazard ratio model to identify various predictors.

Results: Being a female child (AHR: 1·269 (1·016, 1·584)), better employment status of the child's father (AHR: 1·53 (1·197, 1·95)) and residence in a rental house (AHR: 1·485 (1·137, 1·94)) increased the chances of recovery. No hospitalisation (AHR: 1·778 (1·055, 2·997)), no fever, (AHR: 2·748 (2·161, 3·494)) and ≤ 2 episodes of diarrhoea (AHR: 1·579 (1·035, 2·412)) during the treatment phase; availability of community-based peer support to mothers for feeding (AHR: 1·61 (1·237, 2·097)) and a better weight-for-height Z-score (WHZ) at enrolment (AHR: 1·811 (1·297, 2·529)) predicted higher chances of recovery from SAM.

Conclusion: The probability of recovery increases in children with better WHZ and with the initiation of treatment for acute illnesses to avoid hospitalisation, availability of peer support and better employment status of the father.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980020004723DOI Listing
October 2021

Management of fast breathing pneumonia in young infants aged 7 to 59 days by community level health workers: protocol for a multi-centre cluster randomized controlled trial.

Int J Clin Trials 2020 Apr-Jun;7(2):83-93

Retired WHO staff.

Background: WHO does not recommend community-level health workers (CLHWs) using integrated community case management (iCCM) to treat 7-59 days old infants with fast breathing with oral amoxicillin, whereas World Health Organization (WHO) integrated management of childhood illness (IMCI) recommends it. We want to collect evidence to help harmonization of both protocols.

Methods: A cluster, randomized, open-label trial will be conducted in Africa and Asia (Ethiopia, Malawi, Bangladesh and India) using a common protocol with the same study design, inclusion criteria, intervention, comparison, and outcomes to contribute to the overall sample size. This trial will also identify hypoxaemia in young infants with fast breathing. CLHWs will assess infants for fast breathing, which will be confirmed by a study supervisor. Enrolled infants in the intervention clusters will be treated with oral amoxicillin, whereas in the control clusters they will be managed as per existing iCCM protocol. An independent outcome assessor will assess all enrolled infants on days 6 and 14 of enrolment for the study outcomes in both intervention and control clusters. Primary outcome will be clinical treatment failure by day 6. This trial will obtain approval from the WHO and site institutional ethics committees.

Conclusions: If the research shows that CLHWs can effectively and safely treat fast breathing pneumonia in 7-59 days old young infants, it will increase access to pneumonia treatment substantially for infants living in communities with poor access to health facilities. Additionally, this evidence will contribute towards the review of the current iCCM protocol and its harmonization with IMCI protocol.

Trial Registration: The trial is registered at AZNCTR International Trial Registry as ACTRN12617000857303.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18203/2349-3259.ijct20201715DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7644113PMC
November 2020

Antenatal Dexamethasone for Early Preterm Birth in Low-Resource Countries.

N Engl J Med 2020 12 23;383(26):2514-2525. Epub 2020 Oct 23.

The affiliations of the members of the writing committee are as follows: World Health Organization, Geneva (O.T.O., J.P.V., G.P., M.-H.N., F.A., A.M.G., R.B., S.P.N.R., A.D.C., S.G.); Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore (A.H.B., R.K.); Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (M.S., S.B. Chowdhury), Projahnmo Research Foundation (S. Ahmed, N.B., A.D.R., M.A. Shahed, I.A.J.), Institute of Child and Mother Health (F.Y., M.M.R.), Center for Woman and Child Health (A.A., S.K.), and Enam Medical College and Hospital (G.A., S. Akter), Dhaka, and Sylhet Muhammad Ataul Gani Osmani Medical College Hospital (N. Akhter, P.R.D.), Jalalabad Ragib-Rabeya Medical College Hospital (M.A. Sabur, M.T.A.), and Sylhet Women's Medical College Hospital (S.F.C., M.A.M.), Sylhet - both in Bangladesh; KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Belagavi (S.S.G., S.M.D., M.C.M., Y.V.P., M.S.S., S.S.V., V.R.H.), Shri B.M. Patil Medical College, Vijayapura (S.R.B., S.S. Mathapati, P.G.P., M.M.P., M.R.G., H.R.B.), S. Nijalingappa Medical College, Bagalkot (A.A.M., G.M.K., S.B. Chikkamath, B.C.Y., R.R.P.), Srirama Chandra Bhanja Medical College, Cuttack (S.S. Misra, L.D., S.N., R.B.N., B.S.), and Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi (H.K.C.) - all in India; University of Nairobi (Z.Q., F.W., A. Osoti, G.G., A.L.) and Kenyatta National Hospital (J.K.), Nairobi, Coast Provincial General Hospital, Mombasa (H.M., N. Aliyan), Nakuru Level 5 Hospital, Nakuru (A.B., E.K.), Kiambu Level 5 Hospital, Kiambu (M.M., L.T.), and Thika Level 5 Hospital, Thika (N.J.G., B.L.) - all in Kenya; the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, and University College Hospital, Ibadan (A.I.A., A.G.F., O.A.A., A.M.A., O.O.I.), Kubwa General Hospital, Kubwa (W.S., I.K.E.), Nyanya General Hospital, Nyanya (H.A.I., C.V.O.), State Specialist Hospital (T.A.I., O.A. Olubosede, O.B.) and Mother and Child Hospital (A.L.A., O.O.O., R.O.O., I.P.E.), Akure, Lagos Island Maternity Hospital (O.M.O., O.A. Olutekunbi), and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (A.O. Fabamwo, E.A.D., J.O.A.), Lagos, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (E.A.A., O.K., H.C.A., I.O.A., A.O. Fehintola, B.P.K.), University of Abuja, Abuja (A.D.I., E.K.O.), Sacred Heart Hospital, Abeokuta (O. Abiodun, O.F.D.), Mother and Child Hospital, Ondo (F.B.A., L.O.), University of Ilorin, Ilorin (O. Adesiyun, H.O.R.), and University of Benin, Benin City (A.B.A.A., I.O.) - all in Nigeria; Aga Khan University, Karachi (S. Ariff, S.B.S., L.S.), Sheikh Zayed Medical College and Hospital, Rahim Yar Khan (S.Z., S.O.), and Liaquat University Hospital, Hyderabad (R.S., S.S.) - all in Pakistan; Centro Rosarino de Estudios Perinatales, Rosario, Argentina (D.G., H.G., G.C.); Statistika Consultoria, Campinas, Brazil (J.C.); University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom (J.N.); College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Blantyre (E.M.); American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon (K.Y.); and the Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda (K.M.).

Background: The safety and efficacy of antenatal glucocorticoids in women in low-resource countries who are at risk for preterm birth are uncertain.

Methods: We conducted a multicountry, randomized trial involving pregnant women between 26 weeks 0 days and 33 weeks 6 days of gestation who were at risk for preterm birth. The participants were assigned to intramuscular dexamethasone or identical placebo. The primary outcomes were neonatal death alone, stillbirth or neonatal death, and possible maternal bacterial infection; neonatal death alone and stillbirth or neonatal death were evaluated with superiority analyses, and possible maternal bacterial infection was evaluated with a noninferiority analysis with the use of a prespecified margin of 1.25 on the relative scale.

Results: A total of 2852 women (and their 3070 fetuses) from 29 secondary- and tertiary-level hospitals across Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan underwent randomization. The trial was stopped for benefit at the second interim analysis. Neonatal death occurred in 278 of 1417 infants (19.6%) in the dexamethasone group and in 331 of 1406 infants (23.5%) in the placebo group (relative risk, 0.84; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.72 to 0.97; P = 0.03). Stillbirth or neonatal death occurred in 393 of 1532 fetuses and infants (25.7%) and in 444 of 1519 fetuses and infants (29.2%), respectively (relative risk, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.78 to 0.99; P = 0.04); the incidence of possible maternal bacterial infection was 4.8% and 6.3%, respectively (relative risk, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.56 to 1.03). There was no significant between-group difference in the incidence of adverse events.

Conclusions: Among women in low-resource countries who were at risk for early preterm birth, the use of dexamethasone resulted in significantly lower risks of neonatal death alone and stillbirth or neonatal death than the use of placebo, without an increase in the incidence of possible maternal bacterial infection. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization; Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number, ACTRN12617000476336; Clinical Trials Registry-India number, CTRI/2017/04/008326.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2022398DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7660991PMC
December 2020

Lower-Dose Zinc for Childhood Diarrhea - A Randomized, Multicenter Trial.

N Engl J Med 2020 09;383(13):1231-1241

From the Center for Public Health Kinetics, New Delhi, India (U.D., P. Dhingra, A.D., S.D., P. Devi, A.C., J.K., O.P.S., S. Sazawal); Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (R.K., S. Somji, M.B., S.A., K.M.); Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (C.R.S., C.P.D.) and Boston Children's Hospital (E.L., C.P.D.), Boston; and the World Health Organization, Geneva (R.B., P.A., J.S.).

Background: The World Health Organization recommends 20 mg of zinc per day for 10 to 14 days for children with acute diarrhea; in previous trials, this dosage decreased diarrhea but increased vomiting.

Methods: We randomly assigned 4500 children in India and Tanzania who were 6 to 59 months of age and had acute diarrhea to receive 5 mg, 10 mg, or 20 mg of zinc sulfate for 14 days. The three primary outcomes were a diarrhea duration of more than 5 days and the number of stools (assessed in a noninferiority analysis) and the occurrence of vomiting (assessed in a superiority analysis) within 30 minutes after zinc administration.

Results: The percentage of children with diarrhea for more than 5 days was 6.5% in the 20-mg group, 7.7% in the 10-mg group, and 7.2% in the 5-mg group. The difference between the 20-mg and 10-mg groups was 1.2 percentage points (upper boundary of the 98.75% confidence interval [CI], 3.3), and that between the 20-mg and 5-mg groups was 0.7 percentage points (upper boundary of the 98.75% CI, 2.8), both of which were below the noninferiority margin of 4 percentage points. The mean number of diarrheal stools was 10.7 in the 20-mg group, 10.9 in the 10-mg group, and 10.8 in 5-mg group. The difference between the 20-mg and 10-mg groups was 0.3 stools (upper boundary of the 98.75% CI, 1.0), and that between the 20-mg and 5-mg groups was 0.1 stools (upper boundary of the 98.75% CI, 0.8), both of which were below the noninferiority margin (2 stools). Vomiting within 30 minutes after administration occurred in 19.3%, 15.6%, and 13.7% of the patients in the 20-mg, 10-mg, and 5-mg groups, respectively; the risk was significantly lower in the 10-mg group than in the 20-mg group (relative risk, 0.81; 97.5% CI, 0.67 to 0.96) and in the 5-mg group than in the 20-mg group (relative risk, 0.71; 97.5% CI, 0.59 to 0.86). Lower doses were also associated with less vomiting beyond 30 minutes after administration.

Conclusions: Lower doses of zinc had noninferior efficacy for the treatment of diarrhea in children and were associated with less vomiting than the standard 20-mg dose. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; ZTDT ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT03078842.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1915905DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7466932PMC
September 2020

Growth faltering in early infancy: highlights from a two-day scientific consultation.

BMC Proc 2020 15;14(Suppl 12):12. Epub 2020 Sep 15.

National Science Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, India.

Faltering of growth in early life has been recognized as a public health challenge among Indian babies. A two-day consultation on growth faltering in early infancy was organized to examine the data and evidence on identification and management of early growth failure and to identify knowledge gaps and future areas of research. The consultation was supported by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (Nutrition Chapter), Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital, and the Society for Applied Studies. It brought together researchers, clinicians, policy makers and program managers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12919-020-00195-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7490870PMC
September 2020

Feasibility of implementation of simplified management of young infants with possible serious bacterial infection when referral is not feasible in tribal areas of Pune district, Maharashtra, India.

PLoS One 2020 24;15(8):e0236355. Epub 2020 Aug 24.

Vadu Rural Health Program, KEM Hospital Research Centre, Pune, Maharashtra, India.

Introduction: Neonatal infections are a common cause of death in India, but many families cannot access appropriate hospitals for its treatment due to various reasons. We implemented the World Health Organization PSBI management guideline when referral is not feasible within the public health system in Pune, India to evaluate feasibility, barriers and facilitators for its implementation.

Methods: A national-level consultative meeting between government officials and study partners resulted in a consensus on adaptation and implementation in four demonstration sites in selected states in India. At the state and district levels, similar meetings to plan the implementation strategy and roles were held between KEM Hospital Research Centre (KEMHRC) Pune and the public health system Pune, Maharashtra. The public health system was responsible for implementation of the intervention at eight tribal primary health centres (PHC) in Pune district, India, including delivering the intervention and ensuring supplies of all commodities while KEMHRC was responsible for technical support including training of health workers, assistance in PSBI identification and management, data collection and documentation of the implementation strategy.

Results: A total of 175 young infants with PSBI were identified and managed. Of these, 34 had critical illness (CI), 46 had clinical severe infection (CSI) and 10 were infants aged 0-6 days with fast breathing (FB) while 85 infants aged 7-59 days had fast breathing. Assuming a 10% incidence of PSBI among all live births, with 3071 live births recorded, the actual incidence of PSBI found in the study was 5.7%, resulting in an actual coverage was of 57%. Among the 90 infants with CI, CSI and FB in 0-6 days, who were advised referral to government tertiary care centre as per the PSBI guideline algorithm, 81 (90%) accepted referral while 9 (10%) refused and were offered treatment at primary health centres (PHC) with a seven-day course of injectable gentamicin and oral amoxicillin. All infants with FB in 7-59 days were offered treatment at PHCs as per the PSBI guideline algorithm with a seven-day course of oral amoxicillin. All except six infants who died and one with FB in 7-59 days, who was lost to follow-up, were successfully cured. Of the six who died, five had CSI and one had CI. Among the 81 infants with CI, CSI and FB in 0-6 days who accepted referral; 48(53%) were successfully referred to government tertiary facility while 33 (36.6%) preferred to visit a private tertiary health facility. The implementation strategy demonstrated a relatively high fidelity, acceptance and intervention penetration. Lack of training and confidence of the public health staff were major challenges faced, which were resolved to a large extent through supportive supervision and re-trainings.

Conclusion: Management of PSBI is feasible to implement in out-patient facilities in the public health system, but technical support to the health system is required to jump-start the process. Fast breathing in 7-59 days old infants can be managed with oral amoxicillin without referral. A sustainable adoption of this intervention by the health system can lead to decrease in neonatal mortality and morbidity.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0236355PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7446882PMC
September 2020

Antenatal Uterotonics as a Risk Factor for Intrapartum Stillbirth and First-day Death in Haryana, India: A Nested Case-control Study.

Epidemiology 2020 09;31(5):668-676

From the Centre for Health Research and Development, Society for Applied Studies (SAS), New Delhi, India.

Background: Use of uterotonics like oxytocin to induce or augment labor has been shown to reduce placental perfusion and oxygen supply to the fetus, and studies indicate that it may increase the risk of stillbirth and neonatal asphyxia. Antenatal use of uterotonics, even without the required fetal monitoring and prompt access to cesarean section, is widespread, yet no study has adequately estimated the risk of intrapartum stillbirth and early neonatal deaths ascribed to such use. We conducted a case-control study to estimate this risk.

Methods: We conducted a population-based case-control study nested in a cluster-randomized trial. From 2008 to 2010, we followed pregnant women in rural Haryana, India, monthly until delivery. We visited all live-born infants on day 29 to ascertain whether they were alive. We conducted verbal autopsies for stillbirths and neonatal deaths. Cases (n = 2,076) were the intrapartum stillbirths and day-1 deaths (early deaths), and controls (n = 532) were live-born babies who died between day 8 and 28 (late deaths).

Results: Antenatal administration of uterotonics preceded 74% of early and 62% of late deaths, translating to an adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval [CI]) for early deaths of 1.7 (95% CI = 1.4, 2.1), and a population attributable risk of 31% (95% CI = 22%, 38%).

Conclusions: Antenatal administration of uterotonics was associated with a substantially increased risk of intrapartum stillbirth and day-1 death. See video abstract: http://links.lww.com/EDE/B707.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/EDE.0000000000001224DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7458079PMC
September 2020
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