Study shows new method to test premature babies

Monday April 4 2016

By Sandra Janet Birungi

KAMPALA. In the absence of weighing scales, measuring the size of a baby’s foot using the foot length card and danger sign screening cards can help identify if a baby is premature or has low birth weight, a new study has shown.
The study by the Makerere School of Public Health, which is being carried out in Iganga and Mayuge districts, targeted 80,000 women. Preliminary results registered a high survival rate for high risk babies admitted to the health facilities and those delivered at home.
“Within four months, the trained 150 village health teams (VHTs) helped identify and counsel 764 mothers. Of these, 83 per cent were visited in the first 48 hours. VHTs screened and identified 78 high risk babies of whom 32 were low birth weight or preterm babies,” the study titled reads in part.

Dr Getrude Namazzi, the lead researcher, said of the 280 high risk babies admitted to Iganga hospital for the past four months, 40 per cent were low birth weight. Of these, 91 per cent survived and were discharged alive and well.
“Feet have more than 80 per cent sensitivity and specificity so they can be used to find low birth weight and pre-term babies and we have just found out that it works. The study has proved that high risk babies can survive and thrive even in resource-constrained settings using low cost strategies,p” Dr Namazzi said while releasing the results in Kampala last Wednesday.