Updated on: Saturday, December 18, 2021, 10:17 AM IST

Newborn deaths spike even as birth rate dips

City data from the past two years has experts deliberating on reasons



There has been a 27 per cent rise in neonatal deaths in the last two years, while childbirths have dropped by 20 per cent. BMC data reveals that 91,223 newborns died in 2019 compared to 1,13,172 in 2020. Similarly, 1,20,188 child births took place last year compared to 1,48,898 in 2019. Experts have attributed the reduced birth rate to the greater impact of Covid in 2021. The impact of the pandemic in 2020 on those living in Mumbai is expected to be felt in 2021 and 2022, they said.

Health experts have listed several reasons for neonatal deaths, premature delivery, low weight, infections, pneumonia, sepsis, and respiratory distress syndrome in newborns.

A senior paediatrician from JJ Hospital said a few reasons that immediately emerge are pregnancy at an early age, shorter period between two children, malnourishment among expectant mothers, high blood pressure before pregnancy, and pregnant women suffering from diseases such as diabetes.

In several cases, asphyxia or congenital malformation can also lead to death within hours of birth. Deaths due to infection are highest within days of delivery. “We are witnessing more premature births now due to the rise in IVF procedures that also increase the risk,” the paediatrician said.

In the pre-Covid days, on an average, the city reported 12,379 monthly hospitalbased deliveries. But since the outbreak of the virus, this number has fallen to 10,180, recently dropping to 7,000-8,000 per month.

As for the reduced childbirths, additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said, “We cannot say there has been a drop in the pregnancy rate, as before the nationwide lockdown was enforced most deliveries were scheduled over the next nine months till November 2020.”

BMC executive health officer Dr Mangala Gomare said that due to the lockdown in 2020, many families moved out of the city and workers went to their respective villages. “Most of them returned to Mumbai after the situation improved, but their wives and families stayed back, due to which deliveries and birth rates have decreased in the city,” she said.

Medical experts and doctors point towards two major reasons for the drop in the registration of institutional deliveries in these nine months as most pregnant women have not returned to the city because of the ongoing pandemic.

A doctor from BYL Nair Hospital said, “During the pandemic, sexual and reproductive health and rights took a backseat. During this period, when pregnant women were rushed to a hospital for delivery, they would be referred to another hospital. In the initial stages of the pandemic, there was too much confusion,” he said.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Published on: Saturday, December 18, 2021, 10:17 AM IST