Preterm birth complications and pneumonia are the leading causes of death in children who are under 5 years and are together responsible for nearly 2 million deaths in 2013, reveals a new study.
Researchers led by Professor Robert Black, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA found that complications from preterm birth were the largest single cause, responsible for 965000 deaths in under-fives, with pneumonia responsible for a further 935000 deaths, and complications from childbirth (intrapartum complications) the next leading cause, responsible for 662 000 deaths.
It was also found that more than half (51.8 percent) of children died from infectious causes, including pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria. India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and China had the highest numbers of child deaths, together contributing to around half of all child and neonatal deaths globally in 2013.
The researchers said that millions of children are still dying of preventable causes at a time when we have the means to deliver cost-effective interventions. Through the Millennium Development Goals effort, they have learned that substantial progress can be achieved but is not guaranteed, that good-quality data are crucial for tracking of progress, and that long-term targets are useful not only for planning and coordination, but also for rallying countries and the global health community.
The study was published in The Lancet.