Morbidity and mortality pattern of neonates admitted into the Special Care Baby Unit of University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Nigeria

  • J Okagua
  • U Obikwu


Background: The neonatal mortality rate in Nigeria is amongst the highest globally and is mainly due to preventable causes such as neonatal sepsis, perinatal asphyxia and prematurity.

Objective: To determine the morbidity and mortality pattern of neonates admitted into the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH).

Study Design: This hospital based retrospective study was carried out over a one year period between September 2014 and August 2015.

Setting of study: Port Harcourt is a cosmopolitan city situated in Rivers State in the southern part and Niger Delta zone of Nigeria. The Hospital is the largest tertiary hospital in the state and serves as a referral centre for other peripheral hospitals within the Niger Delta zone of Nigeria. The SCBU caters for sick new-born infants born in the hospital and sick babies referred from other centres.

Subject/participants: All sick babies born within (inborn) and outside (outborn) the hospital facility were reviewed. Information on the mothers booking status, sex, age, gestational age at birth, place of birth, APGAR scores, age on admission, diagnosis and outcome of the new-borns admitted were reviewed.

Results: A total of 622 babies were admitted into the SCBU of UPTH during the period under review. Of these babies, 54.5% were admitted into the inborn unit, whilst 45.5 % were admitted into the out-born unit of the SCBU. The leading causes of admissions were neonatal sepsis (33%), neonatal jaundice (14.8%), severe birth asphyxia 83 (13.3%) and prematurity (11.41%). Majority of the neonates (77.6%) were admitted within the first week of life. The overall neonatal mortality rate was 12.4%. The mortality rate of the out-born babies of 13.5% was higher than the 11.4% amongst inborn babies, however, this difference was not statistically significant (p=0.333). Neonatal sepsis (29.9%) and severe birth asphyxia (22.1%) were the leading causes of mortality in these  babies.

Conclusion: The neonatal mortality rate in the SCBU of 12.4% is high. We recommend that efforts be made at strengthening the primary health care system to discourage unsupervised deliveries and improving maternal and perinatal care in our health institutions to curb these high mortalities.


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