Introduction: In the past decade, mobile telephone use has surged in sub-Saharan Africa, creating new opportunities in health care. Mobile telephone interventions have been used in controlled trials to improve perinatal care, but in this first cohort study of birth outcomes from The Gambia, we report the value of mobile telephone follow-up. Methods: Between December 2012 and November 2015, 1,611 women entered the cohort at their first antenatal visit to be followed through pregnancy and beyond. Potential risk factors for adverse birth outcomes were measured throughout the pregnancy. As many women left the health center within a few hours of delivery, delivered elsewhere, or failed to attend the postnatal clinics, mobile telephone follow-up was used to identify stillbirths and neonatal deaths at 7 and 28 days. Results: The immediate birth outcome was known for 968 women who delivered at the health center (60.1%). The known outcomes at birth improved from 60.1% to 85.2% following telephone calls to women who delivered elsewhere. The known outcomes at 7 days improved from 43.6% to 82.5%, and the known outcomes at 28 days improved from 32.8% to 71.5% following a telephone call. Conclusions: Previous cohort studies of birth outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa have not followed the mothers and babies after leaving the birth facility. This cohort is the first to record birth outcomes up to 28 days after the birth. Mobile telephone communications have made an invaluable contribution in intervention studies. This study has shown that mobile telephone follow-up is also an important tool in an observational study.
We are grateful to Junkungba Dukereh for his assistance with translation and obtaining the necessary signed consents. We also thank Isatou Ceesay for her considerable contributions to the study and Nyimasatou Manneh for her help with follow-up telephone calls.
Funding for this study was received from the Ardingly Old Jeshwang Association
- birth outcome
- early neonatal death
- mobile telephone