Neonatal deaths in Cambodia: findings from a community-based mortality review

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The aim of this study was to describe potential factors contributing to neonatal mortality in Takeo, Cambodia through assessment of verbal autopsies collected following newborn deaths in the community. The mortality review was nested within a trial of a behavioral intervention to improve newborn survival, and was conducted after the close of the trial, within the study setting. The World Health Organization standardized definition of neonatal mortality was employed, and two pediatricians independently reviewed data collected from each event to assign a cause of death.


Thirteen newborn deaths of infants born in health facilities participating in a community based, behavioral intervention were reported during February 2015–November 2016. Ten deaths (76.92%) were early neonatal deaths, two (15.38%) were late neonatal deaths, and one was a stillbirth. Five out of 13 deaths (38.46%) occurred within the first day of life. The largest single contributor to mortality was neonatal sepsis; six of 13 deaths (46.15%) were attributed to some form of sepsis. Twenty-three percent of deaths were attributed to asphyxia. The study highlights the continuing need to improve quality of care and infection prevention and control, and to fully address causes of sepsis, in order to effectively reduce mortality in the newborn period.

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