OBJECTIVE:

This study evaluated the effectiveness of Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) newborn care and resuscitation training for birth attendants in reducing stillbirth (SB), and predischarge and neonatal mortality (NMR). India contributes to a large proportion of the worlds annual 3.1 million neonatal deaths and 2.6 million SBs.

METHODS:

This prospective study included 4187 births at >28 weeks’ gestation before and 5411 births after HBB training in Karnataka. A total of 599 birth attendants from rural primary health centers and district and urban hospitals received HBB training developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, using a train-the-trainer cascade. Pre-post written trainee knowledge, posttraining provider performance and skills, SB, predischarge mortality, and NMR before and after HBB training were assessed by using χ2 and t-tests for categorical and continuous variables, respectively. Backward stepwise logistic regression analysis adjusted for potential confounding.

RESULTS:

Provider knowledge and performance systematically improved with HBB training. HBB training reduced resuscitation but increased assisted bag and mask ventilation incidence. SB declined from 3.0% to 2.3% (odds ratio [OR] 0.76, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.59–0.98) and fresh SB from 1.7% to 0.9% (OR 0.54, 95% CI 0.37–0.78) after HBB training. Predischarge mortality was 0.1% in both periods. NMR was 1.8% before and 1.9% after HBB training (OR 1.09, 95% CI 0.80–1.47, P = .59) but unknown status at 28 days was 2% greater after HBB training (P = .007).

CONCLUSIONS:

HBB training reduced SB without increasing NMR, indicating that resuscitated infants survived the neonatal period. Monitoring and community-based assessment are recommended.

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