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Knowledge of Neonatal Danger Signs

Indicator Phrasing

% of mothers of children aged 0-23 months who know at least three neonatal danger signs
See indicator in other languages

Indicator Phrasing

English: % of mothers of children aged 0-23 months who know at least three neonatal danger signs

French: % de mères d'enfants âgés de 0 à 23 mois qui connaissent au moins trois signes de danger néonatal

Portuguese: % de mães de crianças com idades entre 0-23 meses que conhecem pelo menos três sinais de perigo neonatal

Czech: % matek dětí ve věku 0-23 měsíců, které znají alespoň tři příznaky zdravotních rizik pro novorozence

What is its purpose?

Neonatal deaths are often caused by factors which can be prevented if the baby is taken for examination to a health facility in time. The indicator therefore measures the proportion of mothers of young children aware of at least three newborn danger signs – one of the essential pre-conditions for seeking the required health care in a timely manner.

How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data

Collect the following data by conducting individual interviews with a representative sample of mothers of children aged 0-23 months:



Q1: Sometimes, newborns have severe health problems within the first month of life and should be immediately taken to a health facility. What types of symptoms would cause you to take your newborn to a health facility right away?

1) convulsions

2) fever

3) poor suckling or feeding

4) fast/ difficult breathing

5) baby feels cold or hot

6) baby was born too small/ early

7) fits, rigid, stiff, floppy

8) yellow palms/ soles/ eyes

9) swollen abdomen

10) unconscious

11) pus or redness of the umbilical stump, eyes or skin


Note: If less than three signs are stated, keep probing: “Are there any other warning signs you know?”


To calculate the indicator’s value, divide the number respondents aware of at least three of the pre-defined warning signs by the total number of respondents. Multiply the result by 100 to convert it to a percentage.

Disaggregate by

Disaggregate the data by location (rural/ urban), socio-economic characteristics (education level, wealth quintile) and the number of respondent’s children (none, one, two, three, four …).

Important Comments

1) Consider using a slightly revised indicator for assessing the knowledge of important caregivers such as mothers-in-law or husbands.


2) This indicator relies on an accurate age assessment. Since people often do not remember the exact dates of their children’s birth, the data collectors should always verify the child’s age. This can be done by reviewing the child’s birth certificate, vaccination card or another document; however, since many caregivers do not have such documents (and since they can include mistakes), it is essential that your data collectors are able to verify the child’s age by using local events calendars. Read FAO’s Guidelines (see below) to learn how to prepare local events calendars and how to train data collectors in their correct use.

This guidance was prepared by People in Need ©

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