Universal Children’s Day: Integrating Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

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By: Sarah Hodin, Project Coordinator II, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

In 2015, 5.8 million children around the world died before their fifth birthday. An estimated two million of those deaths were stillbirths and 2.6 million were neonatal deaths. Globally, the leading cause of under-five mortality in 2015 was preterm birth, which is often preventable with timely, high quality care. Pregnancy, childbirth and the immediate postpartum period are critical periods, not just for mothers, but for children as well.

Recognizing the connections between a mother’s health and that of her baby is essential, not only for addressing maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, but also for contextualizing children’s health. What happens to an infant in the womb, during delivery and throughout the postnatal period can have lasting effects on his or her health. Infants who are born preterm, for example, are at greater risk of developing neurological disorders, intestinal problems, asthma, infections and other complications later in life. Studies in Ethiopia, Tanzania and elsewhere have illustrated the devastating effects of maternal deaths on the health and wellbeing of their children.

To mark Universal Children’s Day, here is the Maternal Health Task Force’s list of top ten key papers and reports related to the integration of maternal, newborn and child health:

1. The global strategy for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health (2016-2030)
Every Woman Every Child | 2015

2. Continuum of care for maternal, newborn, and child health: From slogan to service delivery
The Lancet | October 2007

3. A price too high to bear: The costs of maternal mortality to families and communities
Family Care International, International Center for Research on Women, KEMRI/CDC Research and Public Health Collaboration | 2013

4. Integrating health interventions for women, newborn babies, and children: A framework for action
The Lancet | September 2008

5. Barriers and enablers to integrating maternal and child health services to antenatal care in low and middle income countries
BJOG | March 2016

6. Consequences of maternal mortality on infant and child survival: A 25-year longitudinal analysis in Butajira Ethiopia (1987-2011)
Reproductive Health | May 2015

7. Global, regional, national, and selected subnational levels of stillbirths, neonatal, infant, and under-5 mortality, 1980–2015: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015
The Lancet | October 2016

8. Every newborn: An action plan to end preventable deaths
Every Woman Every Child | June 2014

9. The WHO application of ICD-10 to deaths during the perinatal period: ICD-PM
World Health Organization | 2016

10. Essential interventions, commodities and guidelines for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health
The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health | 2011

Learn more about preterm birth and maternal and newborn health integration.

Explore resources from the “Integration of Maternal and Newborn Health Care” technical meeting hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) and Saving Newborn Lives.

Check out the MHTF blog series focused on the continuum of care.