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Neonatal care in perspective: results of neonatal care at Port Moresby

Neonatal care in perspective: results of neonatal care at Port Moresby

Papua and new Guinea Medical Journal 30(2): 127-134

An analysis of the causes of death in the neonatal nursery of the Port Moresby General Hospital in Papua New Guinea from 1982-1985 is presented, and conclusions were enumerated. The nursery has beds for 24 babies, subdivided into intensive care, infection and growing areas. Dormitory space for 12 mothers is available, and breast feeding is encouraged, whether by sucking, cup or tube: no bottle feeding is done. Up to 9 sisters staff the unit. A total of 2948 infants were admitted, including 831 cesarean births. 343 deaths occurred. 80 deaths were previable babies less than 1000 g. The neonatal mortality was 10/1000. The most common causes of death were septicemia or meningitis (24%), perinatal asphyxia (20%), respiratory distress syndrome (15%), congenital abnormalities (12%), meconium aspiration 7%, apnea of prematurity (7%). Other causes included pneumonia, hypothermia, intrauterine infection syndrome, cerebral hemorrhage and kernicterus. Note that hypothermia can occur in tiny babies, even in the tropics. Both respiratory distress and jaundice appear to be rare in melanesians compared to caucasians. Infections were due to tetanus, E. coli, S. aureus a Strep. faecalis, rather than the Group B hemolytic Strep. more often seen in the West. It was concluded that several inexpensive measures can be put in place to markedly enhance survival: train birth attendants to prevent perinatal asphyxia; maintain body temperature by available means; feed adequately, using expressed breast milk if necessary; maintain oxygenation properly using simple equipment such as a nasal catheter or perspex head box; prevent infection by scrupulous hand washing, cord care and overall cleanliness; manage neonatal jaundice.

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Accession: 040780567

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PMID: 3478916

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