(Reuters) - More than two thirds of the estimated 8.8 million deaths in children under five worldwide in 2008 were caused by infectious diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria, according to a study on behalf of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The study, published in the Lancet on Wednesday, found that infectious diseases caused 68 percent of deaths in under fives, led by pneumonia (18 percent, 1.58 million children), diarrhea (15 percent, 1.34 million) and malaria (8 percent, 0.73 million).
High-income countries account for only around one percent of the under-five deaths, and almost half of such deaths occurred in five countries — India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, and China.
Here are some details of the study:
— At least 41 percent (3.6 million) of deaths in under fives occurred in very newly born babies, or neonates, (aged 0-27 days).
REGION DEATHS (Millions)
— Africa and Southeast Asia had differing patterns of causes of death: a lower proportion of neonatal deaths occurred in the Africa region than in the Southeast Asia region (29 percent versus 54 percent)
— A higher proportion of deaths in Africa were due to malaria (16 percent) and AIDS (4 percent) than in Southeast Asia.
— In some wealthier regions with lower child mortality rates like the Americas, Europe, and developed Asian countries, a high proportion of child deaths occurred in newborns.
— These ranged from 48 percent in the Americas to 54 percent in Southeast Asia, with preterm birth complications, congenital abnormalities and birth-related asphyxia found to be the main causes of death.
— There were far more under-five child deaths in the United Kingdom than in any other country in Western Europe.
— The UK, with a population of around 61 million, had 4,324 deaths in children under 5 in 2008, more than France (population 64 million, deaths 3,090), Germany (population 82 million, deaths 2,943), and Italy (population 60 million, deaths 2,350).
— At least 55 percent of under-5 deaths in the UK were in neonates. Pneumonia resulted in 147 deaths (3 percent) and meningitis in 74 (2 percent).
— Preterm birth complications (36 percent), congenital abnormalities (26 percent), birth asphyxia (7 percent), and injuries (4 percent) were the leading single causes of death in children under-5 in the UK in 2008.
SOURCE: here 6%2810%2960549-1/fulltext The Lancet, online May 12, 2010.