Child Mortality: Top Causes, Best Solutions


The number of children younger than 5 who die each year from preventable causes has decreased dramatically — but not fast enough.

The number of children younger than 5 who die each year from preventable causes has decreased dramatically — but not fast enough, say the World Health Organization and nongovernmental organizations like World Vision.

They insist governments can and should do more to meet the fourth Millennium Development Goal: reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-5 mortality rate — a key measure of a nation’s care for its most vulnerable citizens, young children and infants.

Six most preventable causes of death for children younger than 5:

1. Pneumonia (kills 1.2 million children annually)
2. Preterm complications (1 million)
3. Newborn infections (700,000)
4. Diarrhea (700,000)
5. Birth complications (600,000)
6. Malaria (500,000)

Childhood malnutrition is the underlying cause of 35 percent of all deaths among children younger than five, so proper nutrition is foundational to helping prevent many deaths.

Six solutions to the most preventable causes of under-5 deaths, according to WHO:

1. Immediate and exclusive breastfeeding
2. Skilled attendant for antenatal, birth, and postnatal care
3. Access to nutrition and micronutrients
4. Family knowledge of danger signs in a child’s health
5. Water, sanitation, and hygiene
6. Immunizations

World Vision works with communities to train and equip midwives and local health workers; with governments to provide supplies and resources to clinics and hospitals; and with parents to teach best practices in the care and nurture of their young children.

Written by Chris Huber

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