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Neonatal respiratory distress in a reference neonatal unit in Cameroon: an analysis of prevalence, predictors, etiologies and outcomes

Joel Noutakdie Tochie
Simeon-Pierre Choukem
Regina Ndasi Langmia
Esther Barla
Paul Koki-Ndombo


Introduction: Neonatal respiratory distress (NRD) is a main cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality in developing countries. Early detection of its risk factors and early treatment of its etiologies are major challenges. However, few studies in developing countries have provided data needed to tackle it. We aimed to determine the prevalence, predictors, etiologies and outcome of NRD in a tertiary health care centre of Cameroon. Methods: We analyzed the hospital files of all newborns admitted to the Neonatal unit of Douala General Hospital from 1st January 2011 to 28th February 2013. NRD was diagnosed based on the presence of one or more of the following signs: an abnormal respiratory rate, expiratory grunting, nasal flaring, chest wall recessions and thoraco-abdominal asynchrony with or without cyanosis, in their files. Socio-demographic and clinical variables of newborns and their mothers were analyzed using logistic regression analysis. Results: The prevalence of NRD was 47.5% out of the 703 newborns studied. Acute fetal distress, elective caesarean delivery, APGAR score < 7 at the 1st minute, prematurity, male gender and macrosomia were independent predictors of NRD. The main etiologies were neonatal infections (31%) and transient tachypnea of the newborn (25%). Its neonatal mortality rate was 24.5%, mainly associated with neonatal sepsis and hyaline membrane disease. Conclusion: NRD is a frequent emergency and causes high morbidity and mortality. Most of its risk factors and etiologies are preventable. Adequate follow-up of pregnancy and labor for timely intervention may improve the neonatal outcomes.

Pan African Medical Journal 2016; 24

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eISSN: 1937-8688