A database comprising a register of virtually all controlled trials in perinatal medicine was established in the early 1980's at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU) at Oxford, England by Iain Chalmers, then Director. In 1986 Dr. John C. Sinclair joined the project as associate editor (neonatology) to develop the neonatal component of this database. Specific tasks included ascertainment of neonatal trials, development and implementation of a classification and coding scheme for coding entry characteristics, intervention and outcomes of each trial, and commissioning of systematic reviews (meta-analyses) of results of comparable trials to reduce random error in estimates of effect. The core editorial team for neonatal trials was subsequently expanded to include Professor Michael Bracken, Dr. Jeffrey Horbar and Dr. Roger Soll. The database was published electronically by Oxford University Press as "The Oxford Database of Perinatal Trials" (ODPT), and updates were distributed to subscribers every six months. The database at that time contained over 6,000 registries (of which over 2,000 were registries of neonatal trials) and close to 70 systematic reviews of neonatal trials.
In 1987 Drs. Sinclair and Bracken, in collaboration with 38 contributors, launched a systematic review of the effects of virtually all therapies used in neonatal care, using ODPT as the primary source for identifying all relevant randomized trials. Software was developed at Yale University to conduct meta-analyses of both categorical and continuous outcome data from the trials using several statistical procedures. This project resulted in the publication of a 650 page book entitled "Effective Care of the Newborn Infant" , Oxford University Press, 1992. This book contains 664 systematic reviews of the effects of therapeutic interventions and preventive maneuvers in neonatology. The book is a companion volume to an earlier one, Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth, I. Chalmers, M. Enkin and M.J.N.C. Keirse, eds., Oxford University Press, 1989.
The Neonatal Review Group was registered with the Collaboration April 1, 1993 as a continuation of this effort.