Perinatal asphyxia in a rural Nigerian hospital: Incidence and determinants of early outcome

Perinatal asphyxia is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in the neonatal period, accounting for 20–30% of neonatal mortality. A substantial proportion (estimated at 26%) of the 1 million annual intrapartum stillbirths result from asphyxia. Probably higher than the mortality is the plethora of morbidity associated with asphyxia, especially long-term neuro-developmental problems including cerebral palsy. The real burden of perinatal asphyxia is difficult to establish because of paucity of information from the rural communities where the majority of neonatal morbidity and deaths occur. Extended Apgar scores and HIE grade have been identified as predictive tools in prognosticating asphyxia, however HIE staging require a certain level of medical expertise which is not widely available.
AIM: To determine the incidence of asphyxia, the mortality rate and factors associated with mortality in Irrua Specialist Hospital.
METHOD: It was a descriptive, retrospective study of neonates admitted into the special care baby unit (SCBU) between October 2013 and September 2014 with diagnosis of perinatal asphyxia. Data was obtained from babies’ and mother’s case notes. The outcome was classified as survived or died. RESULTS: Perinatal asphyxia accounted for 45 out of 347 (13%) of admissions within the review period. The mean gestational age and birth weight of the subjects were 39.2±2.2 weeks and 3020±520 grams respectively. The mortality rate was 31.1% and the factors significantly associated with mortality include lack of antenatal care and HIE stage III. CONCLUSION: The burden of perinatal asphyxia in Irrua Specialist Hospital is comparable to figures from similar settings in the developing world. Lack of antenatal care and HIE stage III are associated with mortality. Continuous efforts should be made to improve the uptake of antenatal care and high risk pregnancies should be delivered in centres with facilities for neonatal care.

*Corresponding Author: 

Kayode-Adedeji Babatunde, Department of Paediatrics, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua, Edo State, Nigeria. Tel.: +447404123651; +44 1412115246; E-mail: