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4 million neonatal deaths: an analysis of available cause-of-death data and systematic country estimates with a focus on “birth asphyxia”

Lawn, J.E.; (2009) 4 million neonatal deaths: an analysis of available cause-of-death data and systematic country estimates with a focus on “birth asphyxia”. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access


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BACKGROUND: Of the world’s four million neonatal deaths, 99% occur in low/middleincome countries, but most information relates to the 1% dying in high-income countries. Reliable cause-of-death data are lacking. The aim of this thesis is to develop programmatically-relevant, national estimates for neonatal cause-of-death, focusing on “birth asphyxia” to illustrate specific challenges in the available data and for systematic national estimates. OBJECTIVES: 1. Review estimation methods, giving implications for neonatal cause-of-death estimation. 2. Propose programmatic categories for neonatal cause-of-death, reviewing measurement options for intrapartum-related outcomes (“birth asphyxia”). 3. Identify and analyse existing neonatal cause-of-death data. 4. Estimate intrapartum-related neonatal deaths for all countries, comparing single-cause and multi-cause models. 5. Summarise priorities for improving neonatal cause-of-death estimates and input data. DATA INPUTS: Case definitions were reviewed for neonatal cause-of-death and intrapartumrelated outcomes. Six programmatically relevant cause-of-death categories were defined, plus a residual “other neonatal” category. Two sources of neonatal cause-of-death data were examined: Vital Registration (VR) datasets for countries with high coverage (>90%) based on a new analysis from 83 countries; and published/unpublished studies identified through systematic searches. Inclusion criteria for representativeness and comparability were applied. Data from 44 countries with VR (96,797 neonatal deaths) and from 56 studies (29 countries, 13,685 neonatal deaths) met inclusion criteria, despite screening almost 7,000 abstracts. These data represent <3% of the world’s neonatal deaths. Thus estimation is necessary for global level information. No useable data were identified from Central and North-West Africa, or Central Asia. MODELLING: Methods were developed to estimate intrapartum-related neonatal deaths (single-cause), and then simultaneously estimate seven causes of neonatal death (multi-cause). Applying these proportions to the numbers of neonatal deaths in 192 countries gives a global estimate of intrapartum-related neonatal deaths of 0.90 (0.65-1.17) million using single-cause and 0.91 (0.60-1.08) million using multi-cause methods. DISCUSSION: The multi-cause model has become WHO’s standard method for neonatal cause-of-death estimates. However, complex statistical models are not a panacea. More representative data are required. Simplified case definitions and consistent hierarchical cause-of- death attribution would improve comparability, especially for intrapartum-related deaths.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: 4 million neonatal deaths: an analysis of available cause-of-death data and systematic country estimates with a focus on “birth asphyxia”
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Printed thesis comprises two volumes: Vol.I is the thesis, Vol.II provides selected associated publications. Volume II is not included for copyright reasons
UCL classification: UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Child Health > Department of Population Health Sciences > ICH - Centre for International Health and Development
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/19027
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