Research priorities for care of preterm or low birth weight infants: health policy

Care of Preterm or Low Birthweight Infants Group

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Research priorities for preterm or low birth weight (LBW) infants were advanced in 2012, and other research priority-setting exercises since then have included more limited, context-specific research priorities pertaining to preterm infants. While developing new World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for care of preterm or LBW infants, we conducted a complementary research prioritisation exercise. A diverse, globally representative guideline development group (GDG) of experts – all authors of this paper along with WHO steering group for preterm-LBW guidelines – was assembled by the WHO to examine evidence and consider a variety of factors in intervention effectiveness and implementation, leading to 25 new recommendations and one good practice statement for care of preterm or LBW infants. The GDG generated research questions (RQs) based on contributions to improvements in care and outcomes of preterm or LBW infants, public health impacts, answerability, knowledge gaps, feasibility of implementation, and promotion of equity, and then ranked the RQs based on their likelihood to further change or influence the WHO guidelines for the care of preterm or LBW infants in the future. Thirty-six priority RQs were identified, 32 (89%) of which focused on aspects of intervention effectiveness, and the remaining four addressed implementation (“how”) questions. Of the top 12 RQs, seven focused on further advancing new recommendations – such as family involvement and support in caring for preterm or LBW infants, emollient therapy, probiotics, immediate KMC for critically ill newborns, and home visits for post-discharge follow-up of preterm or LBW infants – and three RQs addressed issues of feeding (breastmilk promotion, milk banks, individualized feeding). RQs prioritised here will be critical for optimising the effectiveness and delivery of new WHO recommendations for care of preterm or LBW infants. The RQs encompass unanswered research priorities for preterm or LBW infants from prior prioritisation exercises which were conducted using Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) methodology. Funding: Nil.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102126
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Low birth weight
  • Neonatal mortality
  • Newborn health
  • Preterm infant
  • Prioritisation
  • Research priorities


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