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Far Fewer Kids Are Dying Worldwide, but Gains Are Uneven

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Apr 3rd 2017

new article illustration

MONDAY, April 3, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Despite a dramatic decline in child and teen deaths around the world since 1990, progress remains uneven, a new study shows.

Child and teen deaths worldwide fell from just over 14 billion in 1990 to about 7 billion in 2015.

The most common causes of death were preterm birth complications, respiratory infections, diarrhea, birth defects, malaria, sepsis, meningitis and HIV/AIDS, according to data on people age 19 and younger in 195 countries and territories.

Countries with lower scores on a measure of income, education and fertility known as a Sociodemographic Index (SDI) had a larger share of global child/teen deaths in 2015 than in 1990. Most occurred in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

One reason for the regional differences may be that places with the lowest SDI scores historically have not received significant development aid for health, according to study corresponding author Dr. Nicholas Kassebaum and colleagues with the Global Burden of Disease Child and Adolescent Health Collaboration.

Kassebaum is an assistant professor at the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The study was published online April 3 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

"Timely, robust and comprehensive assessment of disease burden among children and adolescents provides information that is essential to health policy decision making in countries at all points along the spectrum of economic development," the authors said in a journal news release.

More information

The World Health Organization has more on child health.