Determinants of neonatal mortality in rural Northern Ethiopia: A population based nested case control study

Type Journal Article - PloS one
Title Determinants of neonatal mortality in rural Northern Ethiopia: A population based nested case control study
Volume 12
Issue 4
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017

In low income and middle income countries, neonatal mortality remains high despite the gradual reduction in under five mortality. Newborn death contributes for about 38% of all under five deaths. This study has identified the magnitude and independent predictors of neonatal mortality in rural Ethiopia.


This population based nested case control study was conducted in rural West Gojam zone, Northern Ethiopia, among a cohort of pregnant women who gave birth between March 2011 and Feb 2012. The cohort was established by Maternal and Newborn Health in Ethiopia Partnership (MaNHEP) project in 2010 by recruiting mothers in their third trimester, as identified by trained community volunteers. Once identified, women stayed in the cohort throughout their pregnancy period receiving Community Maternal and Newborn Health (CMNH) training by health extension workers and community volunteers till the end of the first 48 hours postpartum. Cases were 75 mothers who lost their newborns to neonatal death and controls were 150 randomly selected mothers with neonates who survived the neonatal period. Data to identify cause of death were collected using the WHO standard verbal autopsy questionnaire after the culturally appropriate 40 days of bereavement period. Binomial logistic regression model was used to identify independent contributors to neonatal mortality.


The neonatal mortality rate was AOR(95%CI) = 18.6 (14.8, 23.2) per 1000 live births. Neonatal mortality declined with an increase in family size, neonates who were born among a family of more than two had lesser odds of death in the neonatal period than those who were born in a family of two AOR (95% CI) = 0.13 (0.02, 0.71). Mothers who gave birth to 2–4 AOR(95%CI) = 0.15 (0.05, 0.48) and 5+ children AOR(95%CI) = 0.08 (0.02, 0.26) had lesser odds of losing their newborns to neonatal mortality. Previous history of losing a newborn to neonatal death also increased the odds of neonatal mortality during the last birth AOR (95%CI) = 0.25 (0.11, 0.53).


The neonatal mortality rate in our study was three times lower than the regional neonatal mortality rate estimate, indicating community based interventions could significantly decrease neonatal mortality. The identified determinants, which are amenable for change, emphasize the need to improve quality of care during pregnancy, labour and delivery to improve pregnancy outcome.

Related studies