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Child mortality

Child mortality, also known as under-5 mortality or child death, refers to the death of infants and children under the age of five or between the age of one month to four years depending on the definition. A child's death is emotionally and physically hard on the parents. Many deaths in the majority world go unreported since many poor families cannot afford to register their babies in the government registry.

The same causes and preventative measures that apply to infant mortality (i.e. for children younger than one year old) also apply to understanding child mortality.

Reduction of child mortality is the fourth of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. Rapid progress towards the Millennium Development Goals has resulted in a significant decline in preventable child deaths since 1990, with the global under-5 mortality rate declining by nearly half over this time period. While in 1990, 12.7 million children under age five died, in 2013 that number fell to 6.3 million children.[1] However, despite advances, at the current pace the world will not meet the MDG target until 2026.

Globally in 2013 3.7 million child aged one month to 4 years of age died, down 7.6 million in 1990.[2] About half of child deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Reduction of child mortality is the fourth of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals.

Causes

Further information: Infant mortality

The leading causes of death of children under five include:

Pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria together are the cause of 3 out of every 10 child deaths before the age of 5 and nearly half of under-five deaths globally are attributable to undernutrition.[3]

Prevention

Further information: Child survival and Infant mortality

Two-thirds of child deaths are preventable.[4] Most of the children who die each year could be saved by low-tech, evidence-based, cost-effective measures such as vaccines, antibiotics, micronutrient supplementation, insecticide-treated bed nets, improved family care and breastfeeding practices,[5] and oral rehydration therapy.[6] Empowering women, removing financial and social barriers to accessing basic services, developing innovations that make the supply of critical services more available to the poor and increasing local accountability of health systems are policy interventions that have allowed health systems to improve equity and reduce mortality.[7]

In developing countries, child mortality rates related to respiratory and diarrheal diseases can be reduced by introducing simple behavioral changes, such as handwashing with soap. This simple action can reduce the rate of morality from these diseases by almost 50 per cent.[8]

Epidemiology

The under-5 mortality rate is the number of children who die by the age of five, per thousand live births per year. In 2013, the world average was 46 (4.6%), down from 90 (9.0%) in 1990.[9] The average was 6 in developed countries and 50 in developing countries, including 92 in Sub-Saharan Africa. The highest rate in the world was 167, in Angola.[10] Likewise, there are disparities between wealthy and poor households in developing countries. According to a Save the Children paper, children from the poorest households in India are three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than those from the richest households.[11] However, there are also limitations in calculating an accurate rate in developing countries, especially in rural areas. An ethnographic study in Pacatuba, Brazil, found that the under-5 mortality rate only accounted for 44.4% of the actual deaths that occurred in the community. High travel costs, lost labor, and a withdrawal of socio-economic benefits are factors as to why deaths may not be reported to government vital statistics agencies within a country.[12]

Sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest rate of child mortality, lowered its under-five mortality rate by 48% since 1990. "All 12 countries with an under-five mortality rate of 100 or more deaths per 1,000 live births are in sub-Saharan Africa, and 10 of these are in West and Central Africa. On average, 1 out of every 11 children born in sub-Saharan Africa dies before age 5. This is nearly 15 times the average."[1]

See also

References

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