Study examines bacterial infection treatment in newborns

A recent study conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine discovered that approximately seven million newborns in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America required treatment for severe bacterial infections in 2012.

The study's findings, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, were the first of their kind and designed to aid in health program planning.

The researchers estimated that approximately 680,000 newborns died in 2012 from bacterial infections, including sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia.

"Newborn deaths due to severe infection could be significantly reduced through highly cost-effective interventions such as prevention, including clean cord care and breastfeeding, innovations such as chlorhexidine cord cleansing as well as through treatment with antibiotics," Joy Lawn, the professor who oversaw the research, said.

Lawn said those measures will have to be taken in order for countries to meet the United Nation's Every Newborn Action Plan, which set a target of ten or fewer neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births in every country by 2035. The action plan was officially launched on Monday in Johannesburg, South Africa, by Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela's widow.

The comprehensive study of newborn deaths examined data from 22 other studies. Approximately 3.5 million of the babies requiring treatment were in South Asia, 2.6 million were in sub-Saharan Africa and 800,000 were in Latin America.