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Survival of low birthweight neonates in Uganda: analysis of progress between 1995 and 2011
Authors: Malachi Ochieng Arunda, Anette Agardh, and Benedict Oppong Asamoah
Source: BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth , 18:189; DOI: 10.1186/s12884-018-1831-0
Topic(s): Birth weight
Maternal health
Country: Africa
Published: MAY 2018
Abstract: Background: Although low birthweight (LBW) babies represent only 15.5% of global births, it is the leading underlying cause of deaths among newborns in countries where neonatal mortality rates are high. In Uganda, like many other sub-Saharan African countries, the progress of reducing neonatal mortality has been slow and the contribution of low birthweight to neonatal deaths over time is unclear. The aim of this study is to investigate the association between low birthweight and neonatal mortality and to determine the trends of neonatal deaths attributable to low birthweight in Uganda between 1995 and 2011. Methods: Cross-sectional survey datasets from Uganda Demographic and Health Surveys between 1995 and 2011 were analyzed using binary logistic regression with 95% confidence interval (CI) and Kaplan-Meier survival analysis to examine associations and trends of neonatal mortalities with respect to LBW. A total of 5973 singleton last-born live births with measured birthweights were included in the study. Results: The odds of mortality among low birthweight neonates relative to normal birthweight babies were; in 1995, 6.2 (95% CI 2.3 -17.0), in 2000–2001, 5.3 (95% CI 1.7 -16.1), in 2006, 4.3 (95% CI 1.3 - 14.2) and in 2011, 3.8 (95% CI 1.3 - 11.2). The proportion of neonatal deaths attributable to LBW in the entire population declined by more than half, from 33.6% in 1995 to 15.3% in 2011. Neonatal mortality among LBW newborns also declined from 83.8% to 73.7% during the same period. Conclusion: Low birthweight contributes to a substantial proportion of neonatal deaths in Uganda. Although significant progress has been made to reduce newborn deaths, about three-quarters of all LBW neonates died in the neonatal period by 2011. This implies that the health system has been inadequate in its efforts to save LBW babies. A holistic strategy of community level interventions such as improved nutrition for pregnant mothers, prevention of teenage pregnancies, use of mosquito nets during pregnancy, antenatal care for all, adequate skilled care during birth to prevent birth asphyxia among LBW babies, and enhanced quality of postnatal care among others could effectively reduce the mortality numbers. Keywords: Low birthweight, Attributable neonatal mortality, Logistic regression, Kaplan-Meier survival analysis, Cross-sectional