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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 885-894

Newborn care: A qualitative study of inter-cultural variations and similarities among two ethnic groups in Northeastern Nigeria

1 Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria
2 Department of Community Medicine, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria
3 Institute of Global Health, University College, London, UK

Correspondence Address:
B A Omotara
Department of Community Medicine, University of Maiduguri
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/njcp.njcp_1897_21

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Background: Neonatal mortality remains unacceptably high in most sub-Saharan and Asian communities, where cultural practices and poor antenatal care are common. Newborn care practices play a key role in preventing neonatal deaths. Aims: This study aimed to examine similarities and variations in newborn care between two major ethnic groups in northeast Nigeria. Subjects And Methods: Qualitative methods involving narratives, observations, focus group discussions, and in-depth interviews were used to collect data from recent mothers (ten per ethnic group) and grandmothers from the Babur/Bura and Kanuri ethnic groups in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria. A snowballing sampling technique was used to select the participants within four communities/villages (two for each ethnic group). Results: Babies were bathed within 30 to 45 minutes after delivery by mothers in both groups, except in case of ill health of the child and/or mother. Various substances were applied to the cord even though hygienic cord-cutting practice was reported. With the exception of early bathing, good thermal care practices were observed in both groups. Both groups applied emollients on the skin of the babies, but Bura preferred the use of shea butter to oils and lotion. Various substances were applied to other parts of the body of the baby, such as the fontanelle (Mahogany oil), anus (Neem oil and Mahogany oil), and circumcision wound (engine oil) more so among the Bura than the Kanuri. None of the substances were deemed to be harmful. Conclusion: Similarities and variations in newborn care exist between the two ethnic groups. There is a need for health education and promotion to encourage and facilitate positive behavioral change from old traditional practices to healthy newborn care practices among the Babur/Bura and Kanuri ethnic groups.

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