Understanding the connections between a mother’s health and that of her newborn is crucial for addressing maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. The majority of maternal and infant deaths occur during pregnancy, childbirth or the immediate postpartum period, most of which are preventable. Ensuring that mothers and babies receive timely, high quality care during these critical periods is essential. Antenatal care, for example, provides an opportunity to screen for, prevent and treat pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, preterm delivery and other complications that can be life-threatening to both mother and baby. Particularly in areas most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, patient education and appropriate treatment during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period is necessary to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Helping women to deliver safely with skilled birth attendants and the necessary supplies is another key to preventing the leading causes of maternal and newborn deaths including hemorrhage and infection.

In 2015, there were approximately 2.6 million stillbirths and 2.6 neonatal deaths globally, and in 2017, the leading cause of death for children under 5 years was preterm birth. In 2014, Every newborn: An action plan to end preventable deaths (ENAP) was endorsed at the World Health Assembly and many other stakeholders. ENAP includes specific plans for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 3 target to “end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births” by 2030. In 2017, the global neonatal mortality rate was 18 deaths per 1,000 live births and the under-5 mortality rate was at 39 deaths per 1,000 live births, both of which represent significant progress towards achieving their respective targets. fundamental need to integrate maternal and newborn health is evident in the ENAP strategic objectives:

  1. Strengthen and invest in care during labor, birth and the first day and week of life
  2. Improve the quality of maternal and newborn care
  3. Reach every woman and every newborn; reduce inequities
  4. Harness the power of parents, families, and communities
  5. Count every newborn—measurement, program-tracking and accountability

Access to high quality data is one of the greatest challenges to improving maternal and newborn health. In countries with poor health information systems, data on stillbirths and neonatal deaths often are not collected or analyzed. Furthermore, even if mortality data for mothers and infants are collected, those data often are not linked to one another, which limits researchers’ ability to understand how maternal complications may have been related to an infant’s death. Making these connections is a critical first step towards ending preventable stillbirths and maternal and newborn deaths.



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The Role of the MHTF

Featured Resources

Following the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference in 2015, the MHTF released an infographic outlining ten critical actions.

Momentum for Maternal Newborn Health

In 2014, the MHTF launched its third collection with PLOS focused on maternal and newborn health integration.

MHTF-PLOS Collection: Integrating Health Care to Meet the Needs of the Mother–Infant Pair

In December 2014, the MHTF Quarterly focused on maternal and newborn health integration.

MHTF Quarterly, Issue 5: Integration of Maternal and Newborn Health Care


Meetings & Events

In October 2015, the MHTF collaborated with Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program and USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program to host a conference focused on maternal and newborn health integration.

Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference

In September 2014, the MHTF hosted a technical meeting to discuss maternal newborn health integration and quality of care.

Integration of Maternal and Newborn Health Care Technical Meeting

In July 2014 as a part of the Advancing Dialogue on Maternal Health Series, the MHTF hosted a panel discussion at the Woodrow Wilson Center focused on nutrition and the maternal newborn continuum of care.

Nutrition and the Continuum of Care: Pre-Conception to the Post-Natal Period


Blog Series: Continuum of Care
Blog Series: Maternal Newborn Health Integration