Twenty-four research questions (framed as population, intervention, comparator, and outcomes) for global health care interventions for preterm and low birth weight (LBW) infants were identified at a World Health Organization guideline development group expert meeting in December 2020.
To describe which systematic reviews had addressed these research questions in the last 3 years.
Medline (Ovid); the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews; the Cochrane Database of Systematic Review Protocols; and the PROSPERO International prospective register of systematic reviews databases from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2021 were used.Randomized controlled trials or observational studies. Two reviewers independently extracted data.
We found 9 systematic reviews. Eight reviews of 121 studies and 25 465 preterm or LBW infants published in the last 36 months “fully” addressed 8 of our 24 research questions (donor human milk, multicomponent fortifier, formula milk, probiotics, emollients, continuous positive airways pressure [CPAP] any, CPAP early, CPAP prophylactic); and 1 systematic review found no trials (mother’s own milk). All received a “high” AMSTAR quality rating. Fifteen research questions (kangaroo mother care, early initiation, responsive feeding, advancement, exclusive breastfeeding duration, iron, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium and phosphorous, multiple micronutrients, CPAP pressure source, methyl xanthines, family involvement, and family support) had no systematic review. Limitations include that we restricted our search to those interventions identified as a priority at a World Health Organization scoping meeting. Other interventions that may be of importance to preterm or LBW infants were not able to be considered.
Almost a third of our research questions were addressed by high quality systematic reviews. We found gaps in thermal care, feeding, and familysupport interventions, which need to be addressed.