Adequate care to the mother and newborn can prevent infant mortality

2:29 pm Health Care

Adequate care to the mother and newborn can prevent infant mortality

Quality care for small and sick newborns around the time of birth may help prevent about 80% of newborn deaths

New Delhi, 19 November 2017: About 70 of every 1000 newborn babies in India die during the first year of life. The first 4 weeks of life or the neonatal period are the most crucial for a newborn as two-thirds of all newborn deaths occur during the first week of life. In India, the period from 15th to 21st November is marked as the New Born Care Week with the aim of generating awareness and suggesting measures to improve the health of new born and increase child survival rates.

Infections, lack of oxygen to fetus in the womb and new born baby, premature deliveries, delivery complications, and birth defects are some of the factors that can cause newborn deaths. As per the IMA, it is important to raise awareness about the need for adequate and exclusive care for the expectant mother before delivery; and for both the mother and the new born after delivery to improve the chances of survival.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, National President Indian Medical Association (IMA) and President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Dr RN Tandon – Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement, said, “There is a need for skilled care during birth and postnatal checkups, both of which are essential for the well-being of the mother and the newborn. A newborn requires thermal and cord care, and immediate breastfeeding. The postnatal period is the time following delivery until six weeks after birth, and health checks during this time – especially the first two days after delivery – are absolutely essential. Postnatal care can help in checking for and averting any danger signs such as insufficient feeding, fast breathing (a breathing rate of more than 60 per minute), severe chest in drawing, lethargy, fever, low body temperature, or jaundice. This is also the time when mothers are advised on how to identify and respond to these symptoms, as well as the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding and immunization.”

Proven high-impact interventions and quality care for small and sick newborns around the time of birth may help in preventing about 80% of newborn deaths. Proper and timely vaccinations are very important.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, said, “India has seen a significant decline of 8% in the number of infant deaths this year compared to that in the year 2016. This has largely been the result of countrywide efforts to expand health services coverage, including reproductive, maternal and newborn health services. However, there is a still a long way to go in terms of expanding the reach of such efforts into the remote areas and ensuring access to postnatal healthcare to mothers and newborns there.”

The following points are a must to remember after childbirth.

  • Wash your hands with soap or use a hand sanitizer before handling the baby.
  • Be careful to support the baby’s head and neck.
  • Start breastfeeding within an hour of birth.
  • Ensure that the baby is exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months.
  • Child should be fed on demand or at least 8 times in 24 hours.
  • Avoid feeding honey, water or things other than breast milk in lieu of a ritual as it can be a source of infection to a baby.
  • Give the baby a sponge bath until the umbilical cord falls off and the navel heals completely (1-4 weeks).
  • Kangaroo Mother Care especially for low birth weight infants, wherein the baby is held in a special way stuck with the chest to provide skin to skin contact with the mother along with exclusive and frequent breastfeeding

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