What causes infants to die at birth or shortly after birth? Currently, about 3.6 million infants die every year from various causes. Many of these deaths can be prevented with timely interventions such as better antenatal care, nutrition, avoiding drug use, better delivery facilities and medical personnel as well as Kangaroo Mother Care.
There are four main causes of infant mortality as follows:
1. Neonatal infection:
Infants are highly susceptible to infection after delivery especially if they are born prematurely. The main killer infections are sepsis, pneumonia, diarrhea and tetanus. Prevention of infant mortality from infections hinges upon improved antenatal care, better health programs, improved hygiene during delivery and thereafter, exclusive breastfeeding and Kangaroo Mother Care(KMC). Some infections such as tetanus, which claims 59,000 infants every year, affect poor families the most. In total, neonatal infections claim about one million infants annually with 15% of this figure being attributed to sepsis. KMC and breastfeeding help to reduce cross infection in hospital and enhances development of a newborns immune system.
2. Intrapartum related/Asphyxia:
Intrapartum related deaths or more well known as birth asphyxia refer to complication from labor or hemorrhage. Obstructed labor and/or hemorrhage usually leads to severe injury to the infant which in most cases ends up in the death of the infant and the mother as well. Prevention lies in improving the skills of birth attendant’s and more so on making neonatal resuscitation a core skill. About 800,000 infants die annually due to intrapartum related causes.
3. Complications of premature birth:
Complications arising from premature births account for one third of all infant deaths worldwide. Most preemies are born between 33 and 37 weeks. Survival demands paying close attention to feeding, body temperature and treating any problems that are identified early. Studies have shown a 51% decrease in infant mortality where Kangaroo Mother Care is used. Prematurity is also a risk factor in the case of neonatal infections because many infants that die as a result of infection are usually also premature.
4. Low birth weight:
Low birth weight is a cause of mortality as well as risk factor. Any infant below 2,500 grams has low birth weight. Anything below 1,500 grams is defined as extremely low birth weight. Pre-term babies are almost always under weight. Low birth weight infants stand a high risk of infection and other complications. They also experience developmental delays which can stretch into adolescent. Kangaroo Mother Care is the preferred method of care for low birth weight children as it assists them to stabilize and regulate body temperature.
Kangaroo Mother Care, when implemented, goes a long way in reducing deaths associated with premature and low birth weight children. Evidence already exists that up to half the deaths attributed directly to pre-term delivery can be reduced and up to a quarter of the deaths attributed to infections.
For more information on the benefits of breastfeeding and kangaroo mother care, please visit http://themiracleofkangaroomothercare.com your online resource for natural parenting and newborn care. http://themiracleofkangaroomothercare.com and Tony and Nyrie Roos are one of the internet’s foremost resources on the education and application of Kangaroo Mother Care.
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