WEDNESDAY, Oct. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 2 million children younger than 5 died worldwide in 2013 of complications from premature birth and pneumonia, a new study shows.
In all, 6.3 million children under 5 died in 2013, said researchers who examined the leading causes of death. They were complications from premature birth, resulting in 965,000 deaths; pneumonia, which caused 935,000 deaths, and childbirth complications, which led to 662,000 deaths.
Nearly 52 percent of children died from infectious diseases such as pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea, according to the study published Sept. 30 in The Lancet.
"Although great progress has been made in child survival in the past two decades, with most of this progress in the past decade, it has not been enough," the study authors, led by Dr. Robert Black, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a journal news release.
The highest numbers of deaths among children younger than 5 were in China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. Together, these nations accounted for about half of all deaths globally in this age group in 2013.
While rates of child deaths fell from about 77 to 46 per 1,000 live births between 2000 and 2013, the researchers predicted that 4.4 million children under age 5 will die in 2030 if current trends continue. They anticipated that 60 percent of the deaths will occur in sub-Saharan Africa.
However, an increased commitment to preventing the leading causes of death among young children could reduce that toll to 2.8 million deaths in 2030, according to Black and his colleagues.
The findings show that only a handful of countries are likely to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goals' objective to reduce the death rate among children younger than age 5 by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, the researchers said.
"Millions of children are still dying of preventable causes at a time when we have the means to deliver cost-effective interventions," the study authors wrote.
The World Health Organization has more about child health.