This study was designed to test the hypothesis that 2 training programs would reduce incrementally 7-day neonatal mortality rates for low-risk institutional deliveries.
Using a train-the-trainer model, certified research midwives sequentially trained the midwives who performed deliveries in low-risk, first-level, urban, community health clinics in 2 cities in Zambia in the protocol and data collection, in the World Health Organization Essential Newborn Care (ENC) course (universal precautions and cleanliness, routine neonatal care, resuscitation, thermoregulation, breastfeeding, kangaroo care, care of small infants, and common illnesses), and in the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program (in-depth basic resuscitation). Data were collected during 3 periods, after implementation of each training course.
A total of 71 689 neonates were enrolled in the 3 study periods. All-cause, 7-day neonatal mortality rates decreased from 11.5 deaths per 1000 live births to 6.8 deaths per 1000 live births after ENC training (relative risk: 0.59 [95% confidence interval: 0.48–0.77]; P < .001), because of decreases in rates of deaths attributable to birth asphyxia and infection. Perinatal mortality rates but not stillbirth rates decreased. The 7-day neonatal mortality rate was decreased further after Neonatal Resuscitation Program training, after correction for loss to follow-up monitoring.
ENC training for midwives reduced 7-day neonatal mortality rates in low-risk clinics. Additional in-depth basic training in neonatal resuscitation may reduce mortality rates further.