Child mortality

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Child mortality, also known as under-5 mortality and "Baby death", refers to the death of infants and children under the age of five. In 2013, 6.3 million children under five died, down from 6.9 million in 2010, 8.2 million in 2005, and 12.7 million in 1990.[1] About half of child deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Reduction of child mortality is the fourth of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. In contrast a century or two ago anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent died worldwide on average. [2] [3]

Child Mortality Rate is the highest in low-income countries, such as most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. A child's death is emotionally and physically damaging for the mourning parents. Many deaths in the third world go unnoticed since many poor families cannot afford to register their babies in the government registry.[4]


According to UNICEF,[5] most child deaths (and 70% in developing countries)[6] result from one or more of the following five causes:


Main article: Child survival

Two-thirds of child deaths are preventable.[7] Most of the children who die each year could be saved by low-tech, evidence-based, cost-effective measures such as vaccines, antibiotics, micronutrient supplementation, insecticide-treated bed nets, improved family care and breastfeeding practices,[8] and oral rehydration therapy.[9] Empowering women, removing financial and social barriers to accessing basic services, developing innovations that make the supply of critical services more available to the poor and increasing local accountability of health systems are policy interventions that have allowed health systems to improve equity and reduce mortality.[10]


The under-5 mortality rate is the number of children who die by the age of five, per thousand live births per year. In 2013, the world average was 46 (4.6%), down from 90 (9.0%) in 1990. The average was 6 in developed countries and 50 in developing countries, including 92 in Sub-Saharan Africa. The highest rate in the world was 167, in Angola.[1] Likewise, there are disparities between wealthy and poor households in developing countries. According to a Save the Children paper, children from the poorest households in India are three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than those from the richest households.[11] However, there are also limitations in calculating an accurate rate in developing countries, especially in rural areas. An ethnographic study in Pacatuba, Brazil, found that the under-5 mortality rate only accounted for 44.4% of the actual deaths that occurred in the community. High travel costs, lost labor, and a withdrawal of socio-economic benefits are factors as to why deaths may not be reported to government vital statistics agencies within a country.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Levels & Trends in Child Mortality Report 2014
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  4. ^ Child Mortality
  5. ^ UNICEF - Health - the big picture
  6. ^ UNICEF - Health
  7. ^ UNICEF - Young child survival and development.
  8. ^ UNICEF MDG Goal 4
  9. ^ New formula for oral rehydration salts will save millions of lives
  10. ^ Levels & Trends in Child Mortality Report 2014
  11. ^ Inequalities in child survival: looking at wealth and other socio-economic disparities in developing countries
  12. ^ Nations, Marilyn K., and Mara Lucia Amaral. 1991. Flesh, Blood, Souls, and Households: Cultural Validity in Mortality Inquiry. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 5 (3):204-220.