Maternal Education Key In New-Born Survival – Research

The findings of a health research has indicated that the ages and educational levels of mothers and other predictors are key determinants in the survival of sick new-born babies in some districts in the Northern Region.

The research, under the Preventing Maternal and Neonatal Deaths in Rural Northern Ghana (PREMAND) Study, also showed that there was an increased risk of infant mortality associated with mothers who were in polygamous marriages, and those whose husbands had less education and willed the strongest voice in deciding to seek care for sick infants.

Covering the period between August 2014 and February 2017, the study found 211 neonatal deaths and 87 near-misses across the four districts with half of deaths occurring in the East Mamprusi district in the Northern Region.

The study, conducted to establish the factors that distinguish between neonatal deaths and near-misses across four districts of Northern Ghana -Sissala East, Kassena-Nankana East and West and East Mamprusi- showed that mothers who did not seek antenatal care, did not have a skilled birth attendant and who did not seek care outside the home for baby’s illness run the risk of losing their new-borns.

Annually, close to 3 million babies die before age of one month while several others suffer life-threatening complications but survive, known as ‘near-misses’.

The research by Cheryl A. Moyer and Katherine H. James from the University of Michigan Medical School and John Williams of the Navrongo Health Research Centre found that the “strongest factors associated with seeking care outside the home were younger maternal ages and mothers having the strongest voice in care-seeking decision-making”.

According to the study, the findings reiterated the importance of education in driving appropriate healthcare seeking, as well as the need for community-driven interventions to address prompt care-seeking.

The research thus provided evidence of a causal pathway where women having the strongest voice regarding care-seeking for their sick infants increased the likelihood of their survival and reduced the probability of new-born death.