Most infant deaths in India occur on first day of birth

The country accounts for 29 per cent of the global deaths of newborns on their first day of birth

By Jyotsna Singh
Published: Wednesday 26 February 2014


In spite of reducing child mortality, deaths of infants in India on the first day of birth is still way too high and likely to hamper it from achieving the millennium development goal for curbing infant mortality rate (IMR) In 2012, as many as 1.013 million babies died on the first day of birth in India, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of the total neo-natal deaths ithat year. Death in the first 28 days of life is considered an indicator of problems during pre-natal period and delivery.

The data is part of a global report, 'Ending Newborn Deaths, Ensuring Every Baby Survives',), prepared by non-profit Save the Children and Joy Lawn, professor London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The findings of the report, released by Anuradha Gupta, director of National Health Mission of the Government of India, will be published in Lancet Global Health in May 2014.

Hurdle in achieving MDG

"India has made a lot of progress in terms of child survival. But newborn deaths remain the Achilles heel of India's battle against child mortality," said Gupta.

India accounts for an astounding 29 per cent of the global deaths of newborns on their very first day of birth. Deaths on first day are becoming a hurdle for the country in achieving millennium development goal number four of reducing child mortality by two-thirds. India's target is to bring down infant mortality rate (IMR) to 27 per 1,000 live births. According to United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), India's IMR was 37 in 2011.

IMR higher among the poor

Class inequality in neo-natal deaths makes the trend more worrying. The report highlights that the newborn mortality rate among the wealthiest 20 per cent of India's population is 26 per 1,000 babies. In the case of poor households, 56 per 1,000 infants die in the very first month of life.

The draft of World Health Organization's 'Every Newborn: An Action Plan to End Preventable Deaths', shows that "skilled care during labour and childbirth with prompt management of complications alone can prevent about 50 per cent of newborn mortality and 45 per cent of intra-partum stillbirths." These are in effect first day deaths and therefore it can be said that half would be prevented.

Levels and trends in child mortality 2013

Infant and child mortality in India: levels, trends and determinants

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.