Linkages Among Reproductive Health, Maternal Health, and Perinatal Outcomes

Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Zohra S. Lassi, Ann Blanc, France Donnay

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Some interventions in women before and during pregnancy may reduce perinatal and neonatal deaths, and recent research has established linkages of reproductive health with maternal, perinatal, and early neonatal health outcomes. In this review, we attempted to analyze the impact of biological, clinical, and epidemiologic aspects of reproductive and maternal health interventions on perinatal and neonatal outcomes through an elucidation of a biological framework for linking reproductive, maternal and newborn health (RHMNH); care strategies and interventions for improved perinatal and neonatal health outcomes; public health implications of these linkages and implementation strategies; and evidence gaps for scaling up such strategies. Approximately 1000 studies (up to June 15, 2010) were reviewed that have addressed an impact of reproductive and maternal health interventions on perinatal and neonatal outcomes. These include systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and stand-alone experimental and observational studies. Evidences were also drawn from recent work undertaken by the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG), the interconnections between maternal and newborn health reviews identified by the Global Alliance for Prevention of Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), as well as relevant work by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Our review amply demonstrates that opportunities for assessing outcomes for both mothers and newborns have been poorly realized and documented. Most of the interventions reviewed will require more greater-quality evidence before solid programmatic recommendations can be made. However, on the basis of our review, birth spacing, prevention of indoor air pollution, prevention of intimate partner violence before and during pregnancy, antenatal care during pregnancy, Doppler ultrasound monitoring during pregnancy, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, birth and newborn care preparedness via community-based intervention packages, emergency obstetrical care, elective induction for postterm delivery, Cesarean delivery for breech presentation, and prophylactic corticosteroids in preterm labor reduce perinatal mortality; and early initiation of breastfeeding and birth and newborn care preparedness through community-based intervention packages reduce neonatal mortality. This review demonstrates that RHMNH are inextricably linked, and that, therefore, health policies and programs should link them together. Such potential integration of strategies would not only help improve outcomes for millions of mothers and newborns but would also save scant resources. This would also allow for greater efficiency in training, monitoring, and supervision of health care workers and would also help families and communities to access and use services easily.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-445
Number of pages12
JournalSeminars in Perinatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Intrapartum
  • Maternal health
  • Neonatal health
  • Perinatal
  • Postpartum
  • Reproductive health


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