New surveillance network to track newborns with defects

New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) The World Health Organization has set up a Newborn and Birth Defect Surveillance network, a initiative to keep a track of newborns with defects across the globe.

The web-based surveillance is a network of 150 hospitals in eight countries with the support of Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention, US.

The initiative was taken up as one in 33 newborns globally has birth defects. An estimated 276,000 babies die within the first month as a result. Yet, birth defects remain under-recognised.

“The most common birth defects in WHO South-East Asia Region are heart defects, neural tube defects and Down’s Syndrome, with the most severe defects occurring in middle and low resource settings,” said Poonam Singh Khetrapal, regional head of WHO-South East Asia.

She said that birth defects are a major cause of still births and neonatal mortality. Those who survive birth defects often suffer long-term disability.

Khetrapal urged the countries to make quality health care services available for children born with birth defects.

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