Increase In Hospital Births Helps Lower Neonatal Mortality Rate In China, Study Says

A campaign that began in 2000 encouraging women in China to give birth in hospitals instead of at home helped cut the nation’s neonatal mortality rate by 62 percent between 1996 and 2008, according to a study by researchers from Peking University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, BBC News reports. For the study, published Friday in the Lancet, researchers analyzed “data from China’s Maternal and Mortality Surveillance System to examine trends in neonatal mortality by cause and socioeconomic region,” the news service writes (9/15).

Deaths among infants during their first month of life fell to 9.3 for every 1,000 live births in 2008, compared with 24.7 in 1996, the researchers reported, Reuters notes, adding, “While less than half of all women in China gave birth in hospital in 1988, hospital births had become almost universal by 2008 with the exception of women in the least developed rural areas, they found” (Tan, 9/15).  The study “says China’s experience suggests promoting childbirth facilities is better than having health professionals assist women with labor in their homes,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports (9/15).