The No. 1 Reason Kids Die Before the Age of 5 May Surprise You
We’ve come a long way in our ability to prevent diseases before they take innocent people’s lives. We’ve also gotten better at treating the symptoms of disease when it’s too late for preventative care. Medicine and science are far from perfect, though. Many lives still end too soon due to health complications.
What are the most common reasons kids die young? They have nothing to do with violence, or even neglect. Often times, loving, dedicated parents do their best to keep their children safe, but their best isn’t always enough.
The good news is, child mortality rates are dropping
If you find yourself feeling like the world is falling apart and everything is terrible, there’s one statistic you might appreciate. From 1990 to 2015, child mortality rates dropped by almost half. Fewer innocent children are dying from disease, which means, somewhere, someone is doing something right.
Still, too many children don’t make it past the age of five. Here are the most common reasons this happens around the world.
Next: These deaths are preventable, but many kids never recover.
If a child develops diarrhea, they can die from dehydration fairly quickly if they aren’t given fluids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diarrhea is responsible for at least 2,195 children’s deaths daily.
Next: This is one of the most preventable causes of child mortality worldwide.
Malnutrition causes nearly 45% of all deaths among children under the age of 5. Infants and toddlers who aren’t fed properly — whether that’s measured in calories or quality of food — can’t survive for long without intervention.
Next: A mother can pass this on to her newborn child.
4. Newborn infections
Newborn babies can’t fight off serious infections, which is why so many contract and ultimately die from viruses such as HIV, or bacterial infections. Newborn or neonatal infections can start before, during, or immediately after birth.
Next: Not all of these complications are preventable.
3. Birth defects
Birth defects or congenital abnormalities occur in about 3% of all live births in the United States alone. While some can be prevented during pregnancy, many cannot. These are the most common birth defects parents should be aware of.
Next: Some babies’ immune systems just can’t fight this off.
The World Health Organization reported that over 920,000 children under the age of 5 died due to complications related to pneumonia in 2015. Many kids and infants’ immune systems can’t fight off infections such as these, especially highly contagious ones.
Next: This is the most common cause of death in children — and the most heartbreaking.
1. Preterm birth
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 15 million babies are born before 37 weeks every year. This increases the risk of complications during and after birth. In 2015, preterm birth complications caused about 1 million total deaths around the world.
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