AIM: To determine the causes of early neonatal death and the avoidable factors associated with these deaths among women participating in a cluster-randomised crossover trial in Papua New Guinea. METHODS: Early neonatal deaths were identified by retrospective chart review of the Women and Newborn Trial of Antenatal Interventions and Management study participants between July 2017 and January 2020. Causes of death and avoidable factors were identified using the Perinatal Problem Identification Program system. RESULTS: There were 35 early neonatal deaths among 2499 livebirths (14 per 1000 births). Fifty-seven percent (20/35) of deaths occurred on the first day of life. Idiopathic preterm birth was the leading obstetric cause of perinatal death (29%; 10/35). Extreme multi-organ immaturity (23%; 8/35) and hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (17%; 6/35) were the most common final causes of neonatal death. Forty-six avoidable factors were identified among 26 deaths, including delays in care-seeking, insufficient resources at health facilities, poor intrapartum care and immediate care of the newborn, including neonatal resuscitation. CONCLUSION: In this study, potentially preventable causes and avoidable factors were identified in the majority of early neonatal deaths. Addressing these factors will require health system strengthening, particularly the upskilling of primary level health staff, as well as targeted health education of women and the community.
Link to publisher’s web site