Safe Childbirth Checklist could reduce maternal, newborn deaths

Based on four key times around childbirth when maternal and newborn deaths are most likely to occur, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed an easy-to-use bedside tool—the Safe Childbirth Checklist—to help avoid health crises. The checklist was developed in partnership with Ariadne Labs, a joint center of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Each year, out of more than 130 million births worldwide, about 303,000 result in the mother’s death, 2.5 million end in stillbirth, and another 2.7 million newborns die within the first 28 days after birth. Most of these deaths occur around the time of delivery, within the first 24 hours after childbirth. Most occur in low-resource settings, often without skilled birth attendants. And most are preventable.

According to WHO researchers, the primary causes of deaths and complications among mothers and newborns are postpartum hemorrhage, infection, obstructed labor, preeclampsia, and birth asphyxia.

“We know from other health disciplines, such as surgery, that a properly implemented checklist of best practices encourages a culture of teamwork, problem solving, and discipline that leads to better care,” said Atul Gawande, executive director of Ariadne Labs and professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard Chan School, in a December 7, 2015 article in Boston Magazine. “We believe this simple and low-cost tool can make a difference for women and infants in settings around the world.”

Read the Boston Magazine article: WHO and Ariadne Labs Release Safe Childbirth Checklist