Spectrum and outcome of neonatal emergencies seen in a free health-care program in South-Western Nigeria
Background: Neonatal emergencies contribute significantly to under-five morbidity and mortality in developing countries, partly due to poverty and limited access to quality healthcare in rural communities.
Aims: The aim is to evaluate the spectrum, outcome, case fatality rates (CFRs), and prognostic factors of neonatal emergencies seen in the two free health-care facilities in Ondo State.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional descriptive study of neonatal emergencies. Data were collected on eligible consecutive infants using a self-designed questionnaire. Neonatal emergencies were classified based on systemic involvement and underlying causes. Categorized data were expressed as percentages. Outcome and CFRs were presented pictorially. Inferential analysis was performed. The value of P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: Altogether, 425 infants with neonatal emergencies were recruited, constituting 21.3% of the underfive medical emergencies managed during September 2014 to February 2015. The most frequent emergencies were neonatal sepsis (45.2%) and neurological emergencies, especially hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (22.1%) and acute bilirubin encephalopathy (14.6%). Furthermore, 6.1% of the infants presented with disseminated intravascular coagulopathy. The outcome of the emergencies was as follows: 88.6% were discharged, 7.4% died, and 3.7% left against medical advice whereas 0.3% were referred for subspecialty services. The leading causes of death among the 32 mortalities in this survey were sepsis (39.5%), hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (36.9%), and hypothermia (13.2%). Hypothermia, perinatal asphyxia, and hypoglycemia had the highest CFRs, 22.7%, 12.6%, and 11.8%, respectively.
Conclusion: Neonatal encephalopathy and sepsis were the most common emergencies seen in the free health-care program. Furthermore, they accounted for a majority of the neonatal deaths. This should be taken into cognizance while designing local interventions for neonatal emergencies.
Keywords: Free health-care program, neonatal emergencies, outcome, spectrum