Despite some progress over the last 10 years, the survival, health, growth and neurodevelopment of preterm and LBW infants remains concerning in many countries. These new guidelines, developed by a global group of content experts in collaboration with the WHO, encapsulate the latest research into recommendations for evidence-based care of preterm and LBW infants, and strongly advocating for family-centered care that puts caregivers at the center of caring and making decisions for their infants.

Key Highlights

  • These new guidelines include 25 new recommendations (11 are new and 14 are updated) for three areas: 1) Preventive and promotive care, 2) Care for Complications and 3) Family Involvement and Support.
  • There are 11 strong recommendations for all preterm or LBW infants and 14 recommendations that are conditional on particular contexts or conditions. New strong recommendations include immediate KMC for all LBW babies, caffeine for apnea and extubation, family involvement, and home visits. Updated strong recommendations include: providing KMC at home or in the health facility for 8-24 hours/day, using mother’s own milk, early initiation of enteral feeding, duration of exclusive breastfeeding to six months, iron supplementation and CPAP for RDS.
  • The new guidelines include one new good practice statement around ensuring that parental leave and entitlements address the special needs of caregivers of preterm and LBW infants.

What does this means for health programming?

These guidelines should be used to inform the development of national and subnational health policies, clinical protocols and programmatic guides. Implementation considerations can be found in the guide, and a full implementation guide is also forthcoming.