Document Type



Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health; Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa)


Preterm birth (< 37 weeks gestation) complications are the leading cause of neonatal mortality. Early-warning scores (EWS) are charts where vital signs (e.g., temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate) are recorded, triggering action. To evaluate whether a neonatal EWS improves clinical outcomes in low-middle income countries, a randomised trial is needed. Determining whether the use of a neonatal EWS is feasible and acceptable in newborn units, is a prerequisite to conducting a trial. We implemented a neonatal EWS in three newborn units in Kenya. Staff were asked to record infants’ vital signs on the EWS during the study, triggering additional interventions as per existing local guidelines. No other aspects of care were altered. Feasibility criteria were pre-specified. We also interviewed health professionals (n = 28) and parents/family members (n = 42) to hear their opinions of the EWS. Data were collected on 465 preterm and/or low birthweight (< 2.5 kg) infants. In addition to qualitative study participants, 45 health professionals in participating hospitals also completed an online survey to share their views on the EWS. 94% of infants had the EWS completed at least once during their newborn unit admission. EWS completion was highest on the day of admission (93%). Completion rates were similar across shifts. 15% of vital signs triggered escalation to a more senior member of staff. Health professionals reported liking the EWS, though recognised the biggest barrier to implementation was poor staffing. Newborn unit infant to staff ratios varied between 10 and 53 staff per 1 infant, depending upon time of shift and staff type. A randomised trial of neonatal EWS in Kenya is possible and acceptable, though adaptations are required to the form before implementation.

Publication (Name of Journal)

BMC Pediatrics


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.