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New Study Shows Effects of Health and Nutrition on Fetal Growth and Newborn Size

A new study by the INTERGROWTH-21st Project proves that the health and nutritional status of an expecting woman, and not their race or ethnicity, influences fetal growth and newborn size. This challenges earlier misconceptions that a baby’s country of birth or their race influences their growth and development.

The study reveals that the educational background, type of nutrition, environmental effects, and the health care an expecting woman receives shape fetal grown and newborn size.  Results from the study indicated that babies born to healthy mothers are surprisingly similar worldwide.

The study also shows that the fetal growth and birth length are similar when babies are born to well-nourished, well-educated mothers, despite their diverse ethnic and genetic backgrounds. The reverse of this is equally true: when expecting women are not educated and are unhealthy with poor nutritional care, the growth of the womb and newborn size is poor. Read more...

Investment in Midwifery can Save Millions of Lives of Women and Newborns

New report reveals major gaps in midwives’ services in 73 high-burden countries

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (3 June 2014) – A report released today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund together with the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners reveals that major deficits in the midwifery workforce occur in 73 countries where these services are most desperately needed. The report recommends new strategies to address these deficits and save millions of lives of women and newborns.

The 73 African, Asian and Latin American countries represented in the State of the World’s Midwifery 2014: A Universal Pathway – A Woman’s Right to Health suffer 96 per cent of the global burden of maternal deaths, 91 per cent of stillbirths and 93 per-cent of newborn deaths, but have only 42 per cent of the world’s midwives, nurses and doctors. The report urges countries to invest in midwifery education and training to contribute to closing the glaring gaps that exist. Investments in midwifery education and training at agreed international standards can yield – as a study from Bangladesh shows – a 1,600 per cent return on investment. Read more...

Canadian Government Pledges $3.5 Billion to Maternal & Child Health

Global leaders convened on May 28th-30th at the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit in Toronto, Canada, where the Canadian government committed $ 3.5 billion from 2015 - 2020 to improve the maternal and child health conditions in low-income countries. The next stage of funding will place an increased focus on interventions during the first month of a newborn’s life, on boosting efforts on immunization and improving civil registration and the collection of vital statistics, according to a press release from the Prime Minister’s office.

This funding comes at a time when 289,000 women still die annually from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes despite progress made in the past decades. Following the launch of the Muskoka Initiative at the 2010 G8 Summit, the Canadian government has been a leader on these issues over the last years, and the new commitment shows their continued resolve to be at the forefront of global efforts to improve maternal and newborn health in the developing world. Read more..

Worldwide, Nearly Six Million Babies Are Born and Die Each Year Without Birth or Death Certificates

New Lancet Series finds counting births and deaths is an indicator of progress towards ending 3 million preventable infant deaths

LONDON—Each year, 5.5 million babies enter and leave the world without being recorded and one in three newborns—over 45 million babies—do not have a birth certificate by their first birthday. Babies who are stillborn, born too early, or who die soon after birth are least likely to be registered, even in high-income countries.

Findings from the Every Newborn Series, published today in The Lancet, paint the clearest picture to date of a newborn’s chance of survival and the steps that must be taken to end preventable infant deaths. New analyses indicate that 3 million maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths can be prevented each year with proven interventions—including the promotion of breastfeeding, neonatal resuscitation, kangaroo mother care for preterm babies, antenatal corticosteroids, and the prevention and treatment of infections. These interventions can be implemented for an annual cost of US$1.15 per person. Providing quality care at birth yields a triple return on investment—saving mothers and newborns, and preventing stillbirths—and protects babies from disability. Read more...

Advancing Breastfeeding: The Power of the Network

By: Mariam Claeson, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ruth Landy, Social Impact; Originally posted by Impatient Optimists

Chinese celebrity Ma Yili has over 50 million social media fans, and now she’s using her influence to promote breastfeeding in her home country, where only 28 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed. The “10m2 of Love” campaign Ma is publicizing includes a mobile app to help Chinese women locate and use public breastfeeding spaces.

From China to Pakistan, Venezuela and Viet Nam, countries are experimenting with new approaches to promote a life saving, natural practice under threat in the modern world. Read more...

Raise Your Voice for Newborn Health

Worldwide, 2.9 million babies die within their first month, largely from preventable causes. A new report released by Save the Children, "Ending Newborn Deaths", shows that the the first 24 hours of a child's life are the most critical, with more than one million babies dying each year on their first day. Yet half of these deaths could be prevented if the mother and baby had access to free, quality health care. A group of partners, led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, are working to turn the trend of newborn deaths around and have developed a strategy with goals and targets around ending newborn deaths titled Every Newborn: an action plan to end preventable deaths.

In order to make the plan as effective as possible, experts and advocates are asked to submit comments before Friday, February 28th on this page.The draft action plan highlights the tremendous progress made to improve child and newborn health, and affirms newborn health as a human right as recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: OBGYNs Improving Maternal & Infant Health in Ethiopia

By: Madeline Taskier, University of Michigan, Global Initiatives

In Ethiopia, women are 200 times more at risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes than women in developed countries. Almost a third of all maternal death and morbidity in Ethiopia is caused by unsafe abortion procedures., and the country has a strikingly high health workforce shortage. Due in part to these factors, Ethiopia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Read more...

Busting Myths: Do Health Systems Deliver for Women?

By: Margaret Kruk & Nana A.Y. Twum-Danso; Originally posted on Impatient Optimists 

Maternal mortality is declining globally but remains persistently high in sub-Saharan Africa: the region contributes 56 percent of all maternal deaths each year. This has been attributed to the low number of women delivering with a skilled birth attendant, which results in many women dying at home or arriving at health facilities too late to be saved. To increase the number of women who have access to skilled providers during childbirth, low-income countries have worked to bring childbirth services to primary care facilities that are close to home. Typically these community clinics are meant to be staffed with nurses and midwives trained to provide basic obstetric care, although in practice, skilled providers are difficult to attract and retain in rural areas. In this model, the vast majority of women are expected to deliver at these community clinics, while women with high-risk pregnancies or those who develop complications in labor are referred to hospitals. Read more...

Born Too Soon Report Featured in Reproductive Health Journal

A special supplement on preterm birth, Born Too Soon, is now available on the Reproductive Health journal website. Feauturing updating content from the original 2012 World Health Organization report "Born too soon: the global action on preterm birth", the supplement also includes an infographic with key facts and figures emerging from the data. This report contains the first-ever estimates of preterm birth rates for 184 countries, and recommended action steps to strengthen prevention and care, especially in low-income countries. Read more...

New Partnerships for Improved Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health

The Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health, which is a unique partnership that aims to accelerate progress towards improved reproductive, maternal, and child health outcomes, is pleased to announce the publication of two Partnership Profiles. These profiles were developed through a collaborative process among the four Alliance founding partners: USAID, DFID, AusAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Partnership Profile series intended to highlight innovative and catalytic partnerships among donors, governments and implementing partners. Read more...

Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development Announces Award Nominees

The Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development today announced 22 Round 3 award nominees from a pool of 53 finalists – innovators who descended on Washington for three days to showcase bold, new ideas to save the lives of mothers and newborns in developing countries with aspirations of international funding to realize their vision. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Save a Mother, Save a Child

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

At Women Deliver, we believe that healthy mothers are the key to healthy families and communities. A recent study in rural Malawi proves this to be the case. Evaluations of a five-year program found that improving maternal health care reduced newborn mortality by 30% and saved at least 1,000 newborn lives. Read more...

WHO Recommendations Enable More Health Workers for Maternal and Newborn Health

The most recent World Health Organization publication, Optimizing Health Worker Roles to Improve Access to Key Maternal and Newborn Health Interventions Through Task Shifting, recommends that governments enable more health workers below the level of doctor to deliver vital maternal and newborn healthcare services, including family planning. Read more...

A New Global Focus on Preterm Births

World Prematurity Day highlights effective, low-cost care and new commitments to address the problem

Preterm birth is the world's largest killer of newborn babies, causing more than 1 million deaths each year, yet 75 percent could be saved without expensive, high technology care.

That's the primary message and motivating theme of World Prematurity Day, November 17, a global effort to raise awareness of the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple, proven, cost-effective measures that could prevent them. Read more...

Osotimehin: Every Woman, Every Child

By: Babatunde Osotimehin; Originally posted on The Guardian - Nigeria

Dr. Osotimehin is a United Nations Under-Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. He wrote this opinion in support of Every Woman Every Child, a global movement spearheaded by UN and other global leaders to save the lives of women and children and improve the lives of millions more by 2015.

The launch two days ago (Wednesday) of the report of the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children is a major milestone in Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s push to ensure the success of the Every Woman Every Child movement. It is now two years since the movement was launched in New York during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit. Its agenda – to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015 – is ambitious, but achievable. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Improving Reproductive and Child Health Services in Ghana

By: Smita Gaith, Women Deliver

In Ghana, 350,000 women and 57,000 children under five die each year. Access to quality, comprehensive health care could have saved many of these lives.  In response, from 2005 – 2009, the Quality Health Partners project (QHP) was put in place to support efforts that were already under way in Ghana to ensure high quality reproductive and child health services. Read more...

65 Finalists Advance in Saving Lives at Birth Challenge

The second Saving Lives at Birth Challenge has elicited more than 500 submissions from almost 60 countries on innovative solutions to save the lives of mothers and newborns around the time of birth. On June 14, Challenge partners, which include US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Norway, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), announced that 65 finalists will move on to the next and final stage of the competition at the DevelopmentXChange, on July 12-14, 2012. Read more...

UN Commissioners Aim to Adopt New Recommendations to Increase Access to Health Commodities

Affordable, life-saving medicines and health supplies with the potential to save millions of lives are not reaching the children and women who most need them. To help change this, members of the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children will today review and finalize recommendations to help increase access, reduce costs, and increase demand for 13 products. Read more...

Save the Children’s 2012 State of the World’s Mothers Report

This year’s thirteenth annual State of the World’s Mothers report features more than 60 countries and a foreword by USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. Filled with ground-breaking research, this year’s report focuses on the importance of nutrition during the first 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday.

This year’s report also includes their annual Mother’s Index, ranking the best and worst countries in which to be a mother based on health and status indicators for women and children in 165 counties. Norway, as in 2011, ranks first; Niger, replacing Afghanistan in 2011, ranks last. The United States comes in at #25 among the 43 developed countries ranked. Eight of the 10 worst countries to be a mother are in sub-Saharan Africa. We must continue to work to ensure that moms everywhere can care for their kids. Read more...

1,000 Days: The Crucial Window for Life-long Health

By: Nalini Saligram; originally posted on 1,000 Days

We know that the right nutrition from pregnancy to a child’s 2nd birthday (the 1,000 day window made popular by the 1000 Days partnership) can have “a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn, and rise out of poverty.” Many scholars now agree that we can influence the life-long health of the child, and even prevent chronic diseases, by intervening during this period. Read more...

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