A community trial on Improving Brain and Other Newborn Growth Outcomes

The Field Epidemiology Society of Kenya (FESK) has recently launched the Improving Brain and Other Newborn Growth Outcomes (I-BONGO) trial to assess the efficacy of an innovative package consisting of interactive text messaging and structured psychosocial support groups on developmental milestones of children from teenage pregnancies. The interventions are targeted to teenage mothers in four sub-counties in Homa Bay County, which has the second highest burden of teenage pregnancies in the country.

Burden of teenage pregnancies is highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, where a quarter of all pregnancies occur in teenagers. Teenage pregnancies are associated with poorer physical and socio-cognitive development during infancy and early childhood, partly due to inadequate knowledge on infant care. The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018 launched a global framework of nurturing care for early childhood development, with four domains: health, nutrition, responsive care, security and safety and early learning; this is the conceptual framework guiding the implementation of the project. The trial will run up to September 2020, and is supported by the Grand Challenges Canada, through the Saving Brains Initiative.

The implementation sub-counties are Mbita, Ndhiwa, Kasipul and Rachuonyo North. The project is spearheaded by Dr Valerian Mwenda (principal investigator), Dr Mark Obonyo (project coordinator), and a county team from the community strategy, consisting of the County coordinator, the four sub-county coordinators and 40 community health assistants (CHAs).