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Global Deaths in Children Under 5 Down Since 2000

In 2010, ~40 percent of deaths in neonates; 64 percent attributable to infectious causes

FRIDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- From 2000 to 2010, there was a decrease in the global burden of death in children younger than 5 years of age, according to a study published online May 11 in The Lancet.

Li Liu, Ph.D., of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues reported estimates of causes of child mortality in 2010. The updated total number of deaths in children aged 0 to 27 days and 1 to 59 months were derived from vital registration data and then applied to the corresponding country-specific distribution of deaths by cause.

The investigators found that, in 2010, 64.0 percent of the 7.6 million deaths in children younger than 5 years were attributable to infectious causes, and 40.3 percent occurred in neonates. The leading causes of neonatal death were preterm birth complications, intrapartum-related complications, and sepsis or meningitis. In older children, the leading causes of death were pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. In 2010, only 2.7 percent of deaths of children younger than 5 years were medically certified. Between 2000 and 2010, there was a reduction by two million in the global burden of deaths in children younger than 5 years, with pneumonia, measles, and diarrhea contributing most to this overall decline. An annual rate of decline sufficient to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 4 was seen only for tetanus, measles, AIDS, and malaria (in Africa).

"Child survival strategies should direct resources toward the leading causes of child mortality, with attention focusing on infectious and neonatal causes," the authors write. "More rapid decreases from 2010-15 will need accelerated reduction for the most common causes of death, notably pneumonia and preterm birth complications."

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