A joint report released Tuesday by the UNICEF and Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in India revealed the highest number of infant deaths in Madhya Pradesh for the third consecutive year in 2011.
The report by the Knowledge Community on Children in India (KCCI), a joint initiative of the UN agency and the ministry of women and child development, however, reported overall drop in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in 2011.
"From 47 per 1,000 live births in 2010, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in India came down to 44 in 2011. In 2009, the IMR stood at 50 in the country, making it a consistently improving trend," the report said.
Going by state figures, Madhya Pradesh has reported an IMR of 59 deaths per 1,000 live births, the highest in the country, followed by Odisha and Uttar Pradesh at 57 deaths per 1,000 live births each.
Manipur and Goa have emerged as the states with lowest IMR in the country, followed closely by Kerala.
The survey was carried out by Sample Registration System, under the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner in the home ministry.
"We should be able to make more rapid progress. Nutrition plays a vital role in this. By universalising early and exclusive breastfeeding among the poorer sections of the society, we should be able to bring down the rate further," said Arun Gupta, child health specialist.
According to the report, breastfeeding within the first hour of birth was initiated for only 33.5 percent of the children surveyed. However, 69.9 percent of the children were exclusively breastfed in the first six months.