China's facility-based birth strategy and neonatal mortality: a population-based epidemiological study

Feng, XL; Guo, SF; Hipgrave, D; Zhu, J; Zhang, LL; Song, L; Yang, Q; Guo, Y; Ronsmans, C; (2011) China's facility-based birth strategy and neonatal mortality: a population-based epidemiological study. Lancet, 378 (9801). pp. 1493-1500. ISSN 0140-6736 DOI:

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Background China's success in improving the quality of and access to obstetric care in hospitals offers an opportunity to examine the effect of a large-scale facility-based strategy on neonatal mortality. We aimed to establish this effect by assessing how the institutional strategy of intrapartum care has affected neonatal mortality and its regional inequalities. Methods We did a population-based epidemiological study of China's National Maternal and Child Mortality Surveillance System from 1996 to 2008. We used data from 116 surveillance sites in China (37 urban districts and 79 rural counties) to examine neonatal mortality by cause, socioeconomic region, and place of birth, with Poisson regression to calculate relative risks. Rural counties were categorised into types 1-4, with type 4 being the least developed. We report attributable risks and preventable fractions for hospital births versus home births. Findings Neonatal mortality decreased by 62% between 1996 and 2008. The rate of neonatal mortality was much lower for hospital births than for home births in all regions, with relative risks (RR) ranging from 0.30 (95% CI 0.22-0.40) in type 2 rural counties, to 0.52 (0.33-0.83) in type 4 counties (p<0.0001). The proportion of neonatal deaths prevented by hospital birth ranged from 70% (95% CI 59.7-77.8) to 48% (16.9-67.3). Babies born in urban hospitals had a low rate of neonatal mortality (5.7 per 1000 livebirths); but those born in hospitals in type 4 rural counties were almost four times more likely to die than were children born in urban hospitals (RR 3.80, 2.53-5.72). Interpretation Other countries can learn from China's substantial progress in reducing neonatal mortality. The major effect of China's facility-based strategy on neonatal mortality is much greater than that reported for community-based interventions. Our findings will provide a great impetus for countries to increase demand for and quality of facility-based intrapartum care.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Research Centre: Centre for Maternal, Reproductive and Child Health (MARCH)
Maternal Health Group
PubMed ID: 21924764
Web of Science ID: 296319600023


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