Baby deaths and brain injuries during labour and delivery: How can it be reduced?

Baby deaths and brain injuries during labour and delivery: How can it be reduced?

Experts believe that more than half of infant deaths could be prevented if only mothers and their babies are given access to quality health care.

All over the world, 1.2 million babies are stillborn annually, due to various causes, chief of which are maternal infections, hypertension and other labour and delivery complications.

In the United Kingdom, a failure to monitor babies' heart rates efficiently is one of the common causes of infant death. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists conducted the investigation by observing 700 recent infant deaths in 2017.

Despite the fact that the U.K. is one of the safest places in the world to give birth, there is still a pressing need to address the 126 cases of stillbirth, as well as the 156 babies who died during their first week of life and the 854 babies who suffered severe brain injuries, which may have lifelong effects.

In the Philippines, an average of 60 infants die during childbirth each day. About 12 infants in every 1,000 live births die within their first 28 days of life. The top cause of death remains to be pneumonia, which accounts for 14.3% of the infant mortality rate, reports the Department of Health. It is followed by bacterial sepsis (12.4%) and respiratory distress (10.7%).

Though global efforts have succeeded in cutting the number of deaths into half, reports Save the Children it still can't be ignored that a majority of those who die under the age of 5 are newborns.

In Philippines, about 12 infants in every 1,000 live births die within their first 28 days of life.

Caesarean Section

How can the number of infant deaths and brain injuries be reduced?

Setting aside all pre-existing conditions, we must take a closer look at the quality of care newborns and moms receive if our concern is reducing the incidence of these deaths.

It's important to note that, according to a Rappler report, the Philippines remains to be one of the countries where there is a great discrepancy between the rich and poor, when it comes to newborn deaths.

In fact, experts believe that more than half of infant deaths could be prevented if only mothers and their babies are given access to quality health care, which includes having their babies delivered by sufficiently trained midwives and health care professionals.

Only about 30% of babies are delivered by a skilled attendant in the country's poorest areas, while 100% of babies born to families who can afford quality care are delivered by trained professionals.

Barbara* shares how her healthy baby girl suffered a brain injuring during delivery

In a previous article, we interviewed an Iloilo-based mom named Barbara (not her real name) who shared how her daughter suffered a brain injury during delivery. She had gone into labour at a lying-in clinic, but because of complications she had to be transferred to a tertiary hospital.

It took a long time for the ambulance that would transport her to get to the clinic and, in that time, her perfectly healthy baby suffered umbilical cord prolapse, a condition where the cord wraps around the baby's neck. This blocked the oxygen supply to her baby's brain, resulting in a long-term cognitive disorder called cerebral palsy. Now, despite undergoing therapy, her daughter has little to no motor function and needs special care when feeding and bathing.

Barbara's story is just one of thousands of cases that could be prevented if only access to basic, quality health care is made available to all Filipinos.

"The root problem is the lack of skilled health workers with the right equipment and medical supplies to support mothers, especially in the most rural and remote areas where they are most needed," Save the Children's country director Ned Olney lamented to Rappler.

Midwife Sophie Angeles of the Caloocan City Health Office confided that despite their barangay's population of 250,000, there are only a few of them who are skilled to attend to their medical needs.

"There are only a few of us mid-wives servicing the entire barangay. We can’t attend to everyone – even we really want to," she explained. "For emergency situations, the nearest hospital is very far away and sometimes it can take one to two hours, depending on traffic, to get there."

How do you think we can urge the government to take the necessary steps in reducing the number of infant deaths? Let us know in the comments below!

READ: 3 Umbilical cord dangers to watch out for during labour and delivery

Republished With Permission From: The AsianParent Philippines

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Written by

Bianchi Mendoza

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