Signs to check severe illness in infants in poor nations

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London, Jan 11 (UNI) A checklist of seven clinical signs and signals for severe illness could save tens of thousands of newborns in poor countries, medical experts have suggested.

According to a recent study published in Lancet, the checklist could help village caregivers make speedy, accurate diagnoses of sick newborns, aged up to one week, with possibly life-threatening illnesses requiring immediate hospitalisation. The checklist could result in significant reduction of neonatal mortality in developing nations.

Researchers in India, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ghana, Pakistan and South Africa drew up the guidelines after selecting for study 3,177 babies under seven days old and 5,712 infants aged seven to 59 days.

The results showed that 13 per cent of the children who should have been referred to hospital were not.

Around 4 million infants die annually during their first month of life, 75 per cent during their first week of life. The majority of births in low-income developing countries take place in the home, from which sick newborns are taken to health-care workers at first-level health facilities. Perfecting the identification of young babies with life-threatening illnesses who need hospital referrals could have a major impact on public-health, experts believed.

The UN Millennium Development Goal is to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015 as compared to 1990 levels. At present, the world in on course for a reduction of only 27 per cent.

''Anyone looking after children, mothers, should know that if children are not feeding well, it is a sign of serious illness, they should take it to care,'' said Martin Weber of the World Health Organisation.

The seven symptoms named in the checklist are: -- difficulty in feeding -- movement only when stimulated -- temperature below 35.5 C (95.9 F) -- temperature above 37.5 C (99.5 F) -- respiratory rate over 60 breaths per minute -- severe chest indrawing -- a history of convulsions UNI XC SYU KN1905

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