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Das J.K.,Aga Khan University | Rizvi A.,Aga Khan University | Bhatti Z.,Aga Khan University | Paul V.,All India Institute of Medical Sciences | And 7 more authors.
Paediatrics and International Child Health

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an organization of eight countries - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. The major objectives of this review are to examine trends and progress in newborn and neonatal health care in the region. A landscape analysis of the current state of neonatal mortality, stillbirths and trends over the years for each country and the effective interventions to reduce neonatal mortality and stillbirths was undertaken. A modelling exercise using the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) was also undertaken to determine the impact of scaling up a set of essential interventions on neonatal mortality and stillbirths. The findings demonstrate that there is an unacceptably high and uneven burden of neonatal mortality and stillbirths in the region which together account for 39% of global neonatal deaths and 41% of global stillbirths. Progress is uneven across countries in the region, with five of the eight SAARC countries having reduced their neonatal mortality rate by more than 50% since 1990, while India (43%), Afghanistan (29%) and Pakistan (25%) have made slower progress and will not reach their MDG4 targets. The major causes of neonatal mortality are intrapartum-related deaths, preterm birth complications and sepsis which account for nearly 80% of all deaths. The LiST analysis shows that a gradual increase in coverage of proven available interventions until 2020 followed by a uniform scale-up to 90% of all interventions until 2030 could avert 52% of neonatal deaths (0.71 million), 29% of stillbirths (0.31 million) and achieve a 31% reduction in maternal deaths (0.25 million). The analysis demonstrates that the Maldives and Sri Lanka have done remarkably well while other countries need greater attention and specific focus on strategies to improve neonatal health. © W. S. Maney & Son Ltd 2015. Source

Devakumar D.,University College London | Semple S.,University of Aberdeen | Osrin D.,University College London | Yadav S.K.,Mother and Infant Research Activities | And 6 more authors.
Environment International

The exposure of children to air pollution in low resource settings is believed to be high because of the common use of biomass fuels for cooking. We used microenvironment sampling to estimate the respirable fraction of air pollution (particles with median diameter less than 4μm) to which 7-9year old children in southern Nepal were exposed. Sampling was conducted for a total 2649h in 55 households, 8 schools and 8 outdoor locations of rural Dhanusha. We conducted gravimetric and photometric sampling in a subsample of the children in our study in the locations in which they usually resided (bedroom/living room, kitchen, veranda, in school and outdoors), repeated three times over one year. Using time activity information, a 24-hour time weighted average was modeled for all the children in the study. Approximately two-thirds of homes used biomass fuels, with the remainder mostly using gas. The exposure of children to air pollution was very high. The 24-hour time weighted average over the whole year was 168μg/m3. The non-kitchen related samples tended to show approximately double the concentration in winter than spring/autumn, and four times that of the monsoon season. There was no difference between the exposure of boys and girls. Air pollution in rural households was much higher than the World Health Organization and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Nepal recommendations for particulate exposure. © 2014 The Authors. Source

Devakumar D.,University College London | Stocks J.,University College London | Ayres J.G.,University of Birmingham | Kirkby J.,University College London | And 7 more authors.
European Respiratory Journal

A randomised trial of prenatal multiple micronutrient supplementation in Nepalese women increased birthweight and weight at 2 years of age in offspring, compared to those born to mothers who only received iron and folic acid supplements. Further follow-up of this cohort provided an opportunity to investigate the effect of antenatal multiple micronutrients on subsequent lung function by measuring spirometry at 7-9 years of age in children born during the trial. 841 children (80% of the cohort) were seen at mean±SD 8.5±0.4 years. Technically successful spirometry results were obtained in 793 (94.3%) children, 50% of whom had been randomised to micronutrient supplementation. Background characteristics, including anthropometry, were similar in the two allocation groups. Lung function was also similar, mean (95% CI) difference in z-scores (supplementation minus control) was -0.08 (-0.19-0.04), -0.05 (-0.17-0.06) and -0.04 (-0.15-0.07) for forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), forced vital capacity and FEV1/FVC, respectively. Compared with healthy white children, FEV1 and FVC in the "healthy" Nepalese children were ∼1 (∼13%) z-score lower, with no difference in FEV1/FVC. We conclude that, compared with routine iron and folic acid, multiple micronutrient supplementation during pregnancy has no effect on spirometric lung function in Nepalese children at 8.5 years of age. Copyright ©ERS 2015. Source

Fottrell E.,University College London | Osrin D.,University College London | Alcock G.,University College London | Azad K.,Diabetic Association of Bangladesh | And 23 more authors.
Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition

Objective: Understanding the causes of death is key to tackling the burden of three million annual neonatal deaths. Resource-poor settings lack effective vital registration systems for births, deaths and causes of death. We set out to describe cause-specific neonatal mortality in rural areas of Malawi, Bangladesh, Nepal and rural and urban India using verbal autopsy (VA) data. Design: We prospectively recorded births, neonatal deaths and stillbirths in seven population surveillance sites. VAs were carried out to ascertain cause of death. We applied descriptive epidemiological techniques and the InterVA method to characterise the burden, timing and causes of neonatal mortality at each site. Results: Analysis included 3772 neonatal deaths and 3256 stillbirths. Between 63% and 82% of neonatal deaths occurred in the first week of life, and males were more likely to die than females. Prematurity, birth asphyxia and infections accounted for most neonatal deaths, but important subnational and regional differences were observed. More than one-third of deaths in urban India were attributed to asphyxia, making it the leading cause of death in this setting. Conclusions: Population-based VA methods can fill information gaps on the burden and causes of neonatal mortality in resource-poor and data-poor settings. Local data should be used to inform and monitor the implementation of interventions to improve newborn health. High rates of home births demand a particular focus on community interventions to improve hygienic delivery and essential newborn care. Source

Semple S.,University of Aberdeen | Semple S.,Institute of Occupational Medicine | Devakumar D.,University College London | Fullerton D.G.,Clinical Research Laboratories | And 7 more authors.
Environmental Health Perspectives

BACKGROUND: About half of the world's population is exposed to smoke from burning biomass fuels at home. The high airborne particulate levels in these homes and the health burden of exposure to this smoke are well described. Burning unprocessed biological material such as wood and dried animal dung may also produce high indoor endotoxin concentrations. OBJECTIVE: In this study we measured airborne endotoxin levels in homes burning different biomass fuels. METHODS: Air sampling was carried out in homes burning wood or dried animal dung in Nepal (n = 31) and wood, charcoal, or crop residues in Malawi (n = 38). Filters were analyzed for endotoxin content expressed as airborne endotoxin concentration and endotoxin per mass of airborne particulate. RESULTS: Airborne endotoxin concentrations were high. Averaged over 24 hr in Malawian homes, median concentrations of total inhalable endotoxin were 24 endotoxin units (EU)/m3 in charcoal-burning homes and 40 EU/m3 in wood-burning homes. Short cooking-time samples collected in Nepal produced median values of 43 EU/m3 in wood-burning homes and 365 EU/m3 in dung-burning homes, suggesting increasing endotoxin levels with decreasing energy levels in unprocessed solid fuels. CONCLUSIONS: Airborne endotoxin concentrations in homes burning biomass fuels are orders of magnitude higher than those found in homes in developed countries where endotoxin exposure has been linked to respiratory illness in children. There is a need for work to identify the determinants of these high concentrations, interventions to reduce exposure, and health studies to examine the effects of these sustained, near-occupational levels of exposure experienced from early life. Source

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