Criteria for assigning cause of death for stillbirths and neonatal deaths in research studies in low-middle income countries

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Accurate knowledge regarding cause of death (COD) for stillbirths and neonatal deaths is crucial, especially in low-income countries, in order for public health and medical officials to choose appropriate interventions likely to reduce these deaths. To date, many of the COD studies in these areas have relied only on obstetric or neonatal clinical information and the determination of COD is likely to be inaccurate. Information related to infectious COD is especially lacking. Thus, without more sophisticated testing, data as currently collected only provide a very weak approximation of the COD and may well lead to adoption of interventions of limited usefulness. In this commentary, we propose recommendations regarding the type of data needed to determine with reasonable accuracy the COD for stillbirths and neonatal deaths in low-resource settings. Using these data, and a method to determine the degree of certainty, we then propose definitions for the most common COD. Our goal is to reduce subjectivity and provide more specificity for the tests used in existing classification systems so that the methodology of COD determination is transparent and able to be replicated over time and from location to location.


volume, issue are not provided by the author/publisher


Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine