Newborn Screening Programme to Help India Achieve the New Neonatal Mortality Target set by WHO

World Health Organisation (WHO) recently released a report stating that almost half of all the deaths globally are now recorded. The report states various causes of the death but the one that still stands out is the maternal mortality and neonatal mortality. WHO has decided a target by 2030, to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1000 live births.

In 2015, the global neonatal mortality rate was 19 per 1000 live births and the under-five mortality rate in 2015 was 43 per 1000 live births, representing declines of 37% and 44% respectively from 2000.

Key facts about newborn mortality:

  • Every year nearly 45% of all under 5 child deaths are among newborn infants, babies in their first 28 days of life or the neonatal period.
  • Three-quarters of all newborn deaths occur in the first week of life.
  • In developing countries, nearly half of all mothers and newborns do not receive skilled care during and immediately after birth.
  • Up to two-thirds of newborn deaths can be prevented if known, effective health measures are provided at birth and during the first week of life.


The majority of all neonatal deaths (75%) occur during the first week of life, and between 25% to 45% occur within the first 24 hours.

The main causes of newborn deaths are prematurity and low birth weight, infections, asphyxia (lack of oxygen at birth) and birth trauma. These causes account for nearly 80% of deaths in this age group.

Preventive Measure – Newborn Screening

Newborn screening is the procedure of testing every newborn for certain harmful or potentially fatal disorders that aren’t otherwise apparent at birth. With a simple blood test, doctors can diagnose newborns having certain conditions that eventually could be fatal. Although these conditions are rare and most babies are given a clean bill of health, early diagnosis and proper treatment can make the difference between lifelong impairment and healthy development.

Even if the baby suffers from any disorder, proper treatment is provided on time can improve the baby’s health and help in tracking the future impact of the treatment on the baby.
There are many tests available in India which helps in detecting the conditions at an early hour. In India, we do not have a country-wide newborn program, however, most of the states have some programs running in their own capacity, especially given advancements and access to technology. The following disorders are usually included in newborn screening programs:

  • Phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • Congenital hypothyroidism
  • Galactosemia
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Biotinidase deficiency
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)
  • Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD)
  • Tyrosinemia
  • Cystic fibrosis (CF)
  • MCAD deficiency
  • Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Pulse Oximetry
  • Newborn Hearing screening

At NEC Software Solutions UK, we have used our technology expertise to provide screening services and give healthcare professionals and individuals early warning of conditions in a number of areas including hearing, physical examination and bloodspot screening to detect metabolic disorders such as Congenital Hypothyroidism. By screening newborns early we can help the hospitals and communities to provide intervention and support much sooner which can save lives, reduce costs and give children a much better quality of life. For more information on our Screening services, click here.