Newborn Health Overview
Progress towards the prevention of newborn death has lagged behind that of maternal and child health
The global under-five mortality rate has fallen by 53% and newborn mortality has declined by 40% since 1990, which is a tremendous accomplishment. Yet 45% of all deaths among children under the age of five occur in the first 28 days of life, which translates to nearly 3 million infant lives lost each year. Stillbirths contribute to an additional 2.6 million annual deaths. Tragically, for many infants their day of birth is also their day of death. Approximately half of all newborn deaths occur in the first 24 hours after childbirth, and close to 75% die in the first week. Labor, birth and the first month of life are the most critical for infant survival, highlighting the need for enhanced efforts focused on protecting newborns during this vulnerable period.
Most newborn deaths can be averted
The majority of newborn deaths result from three preventable and treatable conditions: complications from prematurity, complications during childbirth (including birth asphyxia, or lack of oxygen) and newborn infections. Together, these conditions are responsible for nearly 80% of all newborn deaths. Overall, prematurity is the leading cause of newborn mortality worldwide, claiming more than 1 million lives each year. Additionally, approximately 2.6 stillbirths occur on an annual basis, with 50% happening during the intrapartum period. Of these intrapartum stillbirths, 40% occur among infants who are alive at the onset of labor, but do not survive due to lack of appropriate care.
The knowledge and tools to drastically reduce newborn mortality exist. Up to two-thirds of newborn deaths could be prevented through effective and low-cost interventions. A newborn's risk of death from prematurity, birth asphyxia and infection is significantly minimized through delivery by a skilled birth attendant and provision of essential neonatal care that includes immediate attention to breathing and warmth, proper hygiene practices and early initiation of exclusive breastfeeding. Yet infants around the world continue to die from preventable causes, simply because they do not have access to the necessary care that could save their lives.
Improving newborn health outcomes is our priority
Survive & Thrive delivers validated, high-impact interventions to countries facing the highest rates of neonatal mortality. We collaborate with global and country-level partners to support the development and implementation of health interventions that address the leading causes of newborn death, and we work to ensure that these interventions are delivered in an integrated, effective and sustainable way.
Survive & Thrive understands that the health and survival of babies and their mothers are inextricably connected. For this reason, we advance a coordinated care approach that emphasizes a continuum of accessible and quality care for mothers and newborns before and during pregnancy, in childbirth and throughout the postnatal period. By working alongside countries to strengthen health systems, enhance provider skills and improve overall quality of neonatal and maternal care, Survive & Thrive is able to make a real impact in reducing preventable newborn deaths throughout the world.
Newborn Health Resources
Helping Babies Survive (HBS)
Helping Babies Survive is a suite of evidence-based educational training programs developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics to reduce neonatal mortality in resource-limited environments. The HBS initiative consists of three training modules -- Helping Babies Breathe, Essential Care for Every Baby, and Essential Care for Small Babies -- designed to address the three most common causes of preventable newborn deaths. Each HBS training module includes visual guidebooks, flipcharts and posters containing clear, specific instructions for healthcare providers to follow after the birth of a baby. HBS training resources have been translated into many languages, and all materials are available for free access and download by visiting the links provided below.
Helping Babies Breathe (HBB)
HBB trains birth attendants in essential neonatal resuscitation techniques and newborn care skills that can help save the lives of the approximately 10 million babies born each year who need assistance breathing at birth.
Essential Care for Every Baby (ECEB)
ECEB teaches health providers essential newborn care practices to keep all babies healthy from the time of birth to discharge from the facility, with a special focus on areas that are most critical to newborn survival: initiating breastfeeding, preventing and managing infections, and recognizing danger signs.
Essential Care for Small Babies (ECSB)
ECSB provides education on the essential skills necessary to care for preterm and low birthweight babies, emphasizing vital practices that ensure small babies remain well and thrive: supporting feeding, maintaining warmth, preventing and managing infections, identifying and responding promptly to danger signs, and preparing families to properly care for their small baby at home.
Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) Implementation Guide
This KMC guide provides pertinent guidelines for national-level policymakers and managers of maternal and newborn health programs. The ultimate aim is to introduce, expand and strengthen KMC practices to improve the survival of low birthweight and preterm babies.