Reducing preterm births and stillbirths
Levels and Trends in Child Mortality Report
- Published by the United Nations Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UNIGME).
What does the report say
- Under-five mortality globally is about five million which means five million children died before their fifth birthday.
- Of this, neonatal deaths i.e., death in the first month of life, was about 2.3 million.
- Under-five mortality in India stood at 7,09,366, while neonatal deaths were about 4,41,801.
Sample Registration System (SRS)
- Sample Registration System was started by Government of India under Registrar General of India, in the later half of 1960s.
- Its aim is to provide reliable estimates of birth and death rates for the States and also at All India level.
What does the report say
- Inter-State variations in child mortality in India is huge, for example infant mortality rate in Madhya Pradesh was six times that in Kerala.
The cause of High Child Mortality
- The child deaths are mainly caused by two neglected challenges. Which are;
- Preterm birth means children who are born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed.
- Preterm babies are two to four times more likely to die after birth in comparison to those born after 37 weeks of gestation.
- The global average for preterm births is one in every 10 births.
- In India however, one in every six to seven births is preterm.
- Which makes the newborns in the country have a greater risk of complications and mortality.
- As per statistics, preterm births contribute to one in every six under-five child deaths.
- A baby who dies any time after 22 weeks of pregnancy, but before or during the birth, will be termed as a stillborn.
- An estimated 1.9 million stillbirths happened globally in 2021.
- The absolute number of estimated stillbirths in India (2,86,482) was greater than the death amongst children in 1-59 months of age (2,67,565) in 2021.
What can be done
The following steps can reduce the risk of preterm births and still births;
- Increasing access to family planning services;
- Improving antepartum services such as health and nutrition, including the intake of iron folic acid by pregnant mothers, providing counselling on the importance of a healthy diet, and optimal nutrition;
- Identification and management of risk factors.
- Prevent, detect early and manage diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and infections which put mothers at high risk.