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Verbal autopsy to determine the timing and causes of infant deaths in the northern state of India

Background: Data on timing and probable causes of infant deaths are very important for the design of intervention to reduce infant mortality. Also there are few or limited community based study in our state. This study was undertaken to determine the timing and causes of infant deaths using verbal autopsy in the community. The suggestions and recommendations can be used to strengthen and improve the existing facilities and services for the better outcome of life in the early childhood. Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted in 180 selected clusters in 6 districts of Himachal Pradesh using WHO cluster sampling method and data collected through validated verbal autopsy tool. Results: Verbal autopsy was done for 45 infant deaths. 37.8% infant deaths were early neonatal, 15.5% in late neonatal and 46.7% in post neonatal period. The mean age at death was 5.79 ± 6.35 days in neonatal period while it was 5.07 ± 3.38 months in post neonatal period. Of all the infants 57.78% were females. The observed causes of death were severe infection (15.5%) in neonates, pneumonia (13.3%) in post neonates followed by LBW with prematurity (11.1%) and Diarrhea (11.1%) in both periods. No specific cause could be determined in 13.3% cases. Conclusion: The major causes of infant deaths are preventable. It emphasizes for the robust reporting mechanism of all infant mortality utilizing the existing collaborative health system to determine the exact causes at local level and strengthening of comprehensive health care delivery with local consideration and ensuring the accessibility to the health care services to have a healthy infanthood.

Author(s): Anupam Parashar, Anmol Gupta, Tripti Chauhan, Deepesh Barall, Devender Kumar, Arvind Kumar, Sanjay Kumar, Gopal Ashish Sharma, Sunita Kumari