Affiliations: Division of Women & Child Health, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
Note:  Corresponding author: Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Division of Women & Child Health, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan. Tel.: +92 21 3486 4724; Fax: +92 21 3493 4294; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this article is to explore the traditional newborn-care beliefs and practices and to identify factors that affect newborn health, aiming to design an appropriate, culturally-sensitive and acceptable intervention to reduce neonatal morbidity and mortality. METHODS: A cross sectional study was conducted in the district of Gilgit in Pakistan. A structured questionnaire was administered to 708 mothers who gave birth to a live child in the past one year. Descriptive and inferential analysis was performed to identify socio-economic and health care factors associated with newborn care practices. RESULTS: Illiterate mothers were more likely to use harmful newborn care practices, while those seeking health care from private sector were less likely to use harmful newborn care practices. Ninety-four percent of the newborns were given a bath soon after birth, likelihood to be 2 times more amongst illiterate mothers. Cord application was a very common practice, mostly with matti (crashed apricot seed), and a majority of the mothers reported newborn massage generally with mustard oil. The administration of colostrum as the first feed was relatively common in the study area. Twenty-seven percent of mothers reported giving pre-lacteals; from which prominent feeds included salt water (44%) and cow's milk (26%). Initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour after birth was (71%), while (29%) reported to breastfeed their newborn within 24 hours. Thirty-seven percent newborns were exclusively breastfed for six months. CONCLUSION: This study underscores the existence and predominance of risky practices in newborn care; that stresses the need for health education programs to ensure safety of the newborn.
Keywords: Newborn care, practices, cord care, bathing, feeding, Gilgit1