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WHO Study Finds Global Neonatal Mortality Rate Down 28% Since 1990, But Progress Slow In Developing Countries

“Global death rates among newborns under one month old are dropping,” but “developing nations are still reporting a disproportionately high level of child deaths,” with “99 percent of all newborn deaths occur[ing] in developing countries,” according to a study published Tuesday in PLoS Medicine, Agence France-Presse reports. The study, conducted by the WHO, Save the Children and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, showed that half of those deaths occur in only five countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the news agency notes (8/30). The study authors “used civil registration systems, household surveys, and other data sources to compile statistical models to estimate that in 2009, 3.3 million babies died during their first month of life compared to 4.6 million in 1990,” a decrease of 28 percent, according to a PLoS press release (8/30).

“The study, which covers 20 years and all 193 WHO member states, found that newborn deaths today account for 41 percent of all child deaths before the age of five,” the U.N. News Centre writes (8/30). “Africa saw the slowest decline in newborn deaths, at a rate of just one percent per year,” according to the report, AFP notes (8/30). “Furthermore, over the past 20 years, more than four percent of all babies born live in India died during the first month of life,” the study showed, the PLoS press release states (8/30). “The three leading causes of newborn death were preterm delivery, asphyxia and infection, Save The Children noted — all avoidable,” according to the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog (Brown, 8/30).

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