A new study has found that newborn deaths have reduced to a half in China following a campaign to promote hospital deliveries since 2000.
The study, which is published in the Lancet journal, found the neonatal mortality rate (within the first month of life) falling by 62 percent in China over 12 years till 2008, the BBC reports.
The findings also show that babies born in hospitals in rural areas were four times more likely to die than babies born in urban hospitals in China due to lower quality hospital care in rural areas or delay in seeking hospital care.
The study conducted by researchers of Peking University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine used data from China's Maternal and Mortality Surveillance System, and analyzed 1.5 million births between 1996 and 2008.
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Professor Carine Ronsmans said China's progress in reducing neonatal mortality has set an example for other countries.
"We can't prove in this study that it's the hospitals that made the difference but there is a strong indication that it's much safer to give birth in hospital than at home," he said.
"There is a very big drive in poor countries to do community-based interventions because people think it's cheaper and more effective. But in the long run you have to get women into hospitals if you want to lower mortality rates for mother and baby," he added.
University of Toronto researchers Diego Bassani and Daniel Roth, however said increased numbers of hospital deliveries and reduced neonatal mortality rates were not directly linked.