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  • Fauzia Haque

Neonatal Health: Why is it Jeopardized?

In light of the pandemic, many neonatal practices have become increasingly difficult to conduct, especially since a newborn is in need of delicate, close-up care. While the current medical deficiencies affect everyone, it is mostly ethnic and racial minorities that end up on the shorter end of the stick.

In recent years, infant mortality rates, maternal mortality rates, and the status of neonatal health have all been on the decline as different obstacles continuously rise in the face of any potential medical betterment. Economic struggles of the country, poor healthcare systems, and low amounts of doctors specializing in neonatology deters from any improvements. Infant mortality rate is defined as the number of infant deaths, before their first birthday, for every live one thousand births. The maternal mortality rate is outlined by the number of maternal deaths within forty-two days of the termination of the pregnancy per every one hundred thousand live births.

Neonatal healthcare has also been intensely jeopardized and put at risk within the last following years due to increased burnout among obstetricians, pediacians, and neonatal clinicians as they face higher rates of burnout due to the pandemic. A survey done by the Stanford University School of Medicine included 288 neonatologists and maternal health clinicians in June 2020, which was covered by the Becker’s Hospital Review. Approximately 66 percent of the clinicians self-reported feelings of burnout and 73 percent of them had stated that they felt their colleagues were also experiencing extreme rates of burnout. 12 percent of the respondents also included that they felt these increased feelings and symptoms of burnout led to more worries and chances for medical errors that would be detrimental. According to the associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford, the burnout rates within the pandemic are 2.5 times the amounts that are usually observed at times prior to the pandemic.

However, it is not just the United States that has undergone a harsh reconfiguration to their neonatal healthcare. Mothers and newborns in developing countries are also being put in increasingly more vulnerable situations due to the pandemic and the state of neonatal care. For example, in Bangladesh, a country that is primarily aided by UNICEF, there are less doctors and midwives in the country since the pandemic, leading to a shortage of obstetric skills and capabilities. Bangladesh has 0.5809 doctors per capita according to a World Bank record. Due to precautionary measures taken by the country in the light of the pandemic, neonatal healthcare has become much more difficult to conduct. According to UNICEF, 2.4 million babies in Bangladesh were reported to survive out of the 116 million children that were to be born around the globe as of March 2021. It was reported that an increase of 36 percent of deliveries are now being done at individual homes due to all of the reduction of neonatal and obstetric clinical care. This also led to increased maternal mortality rates due to the improper, inadequate, and unsanitized environment and unsterilized equipment that leads to inappropriate handling of the delivery.

Global surveys, taken by the World Health Organization, reveal that more intricate neonatal care needs to be taken in order to establish better care for newborns and the mothers. New research indicates that allowing skin contact between mothers and their newborns, as in the process of kangaroo mother care, could save a surmounting number of 125,000 lives altogether. However, the state of the pandemic has led to a flurry of jeopardization on all counts for neonatal care, resulting in an unnecessary number of deaths, injuries, sufferings, and medical errors. In developing countries or those that do not have stable economies, babies are more likely to be born preterm or at a low birthweight. Kangaroo mother care would be particularly crucial in keeping these babies alive and making sure that they can develop with the proper nurturement. Neonatology is currently on the rise of being jeopardized, and if an individual finds passion in the subspecialty, research about the interests to be pursued!

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