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Mapping Where Infants Are Most Likely To Die And 4 Interventions To Save Them

Mapping Where Infants Are Most Likely To Die And 4 Interventions To Save Them
Pregnant Women via Shutterstock

Three million babies die in the first month of life, and more than a million die on their birthday. Despite a big drop in child mortality in the last 20 years–under-five deaths have fallen 40%–too many still don’t make it.

The chart here compares first-day death rates for 186 countries. As you can see, babies in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and the Netherlands are least likely to die on day one, while infants in D.R. Congo, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Mali, and Niger are most likely to perish.


The figures are from Save the Children’s report “State of the World’s Mothers,” which looks at the causes of early death, and what might be done to reduce the rate–particularly in parts of Asia and Africa, where the numbers are highest.

Not all the lessons apply to poor countries. As you can see, the United States has a relatively poor record for newborn survival. It is 30th on the list, and accounts for half of all first-day deaths in the industrialized world. 11,300 babies die here on their first day, mostly after pre-term births.


Save the Children says the three main causes of early death are complications during birth, prematurity, and infections, each of which of which are relatively easy problems to solve. Cheap interventions, like steroid injections during preterm labor (to reduce breathing problems), resuscitation devices (to get babies to breathe immediately after birth), umbilical cord cleansing (to curb infections), and injectable antibiotics (to treat newborn sepsis and pneumonia) could have a dramatic effect, it argues.

“These proven interventions–coupled with stronger health systems and sufficient health care workers who are trained, deployed and supported to tackle the key causes of child mortality–have the potential to reduce newborn deaths by as much as 75%,” the report says. Here’s the full graphic:


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