Child Mortality Drops Below 10 Million

Hannah Doherty | Sep 03, 2008

In 2006, the latest year with data available, the world’s child mortality rate—the number of children who die before the age of five per 1,000 live births—dropped to 72, a 20-percent decline since 1990, when 93 children died for every 1,000 live births.1 (See Figure 1.) For the first time since recordkeeping began in 1960, child mortality fell below 10 million, to 9.7 million, which was less than half the number who died before reaching five in 1960.2 This welcome achievement, however, still leaves most devel­oping countries well short of the pace needed to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing under-five child mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015. And despite the steady decline in global under-five deaths, disparities between and within regions continue to grow.

Under-five mortality decreases as per capita income increases.3 In the poorest households in developing countries, 107 children under the age of five die for every 1,000 live births.4 This is nearly 40 percent higher than in the richest households in those nations, where the rate is 67 deaths for every 1,000 live births.5 The disparity is even greater when compared with the rate in industrial nations—6 deaths per 1,000 live births.6

For the average child living in rural areas and isolated from basic health services and adequate sanitation, the under-five mortality rate is 105—far greater than in urban areas, where the rate is 69 deaths per 1,000 live births.7

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