The 5 top causes of death among children worldwide

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What is eye-opening for us all is that these conditions are largely preventable. Read on for more information...

A new report published in JAMA Pediatrics has listed the five main causes of all deaths in children and teenagers worldwide.

In 2013, there were 7.7 million deaths among children and teenagers worldwide. According to the report, the majority of these deaths (6.3 million) were in children below the age of five.

There were about 480,000 deaths among children ages 5 to 9, and 970,000 in children ages 10 to 19, says the report which was published on January 25.

Top 5 causes of death (in 2013) among kids under the the age of five:

  • Lower respiratory infections, e.g. bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Preterm birth complications
  • Neonatal encephalopathy following birth trauma and asphyxia
  • Malaria
  • Diarrheal diseases

In older kids, the leading cause of death was diarrheal diseases, and in teenagers, it was road injuries.

A big difference

The authors of this report mentioned that “half of the world’s diarrheal deaths among children and adolescents occurred in just five countries: India, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ethiopia.”

There are big differences between the top causes of death among children in developed countries and developing nations, as highlighted by the report.

For instance, in Australia, North America and much of Europe and South America, congenital anomalies were responsible for most of the deaths among among children.

Leading causes of disability

The top causes of disability worldwide (in 2013) among children and teenagers were also examined by the study.

In all age groups, iron deficiency anemia was the main cause for the greatest number of “years lived with disability”.

The report pointed out that China, India and Nigeria had the largest number of cases of iron deficiency anemia — all these countries have large populations of children and teenagers.

Skin diseases contributed to the second leading cause of disability — viral skin diseases mostly affected younger kids, while teenagers were most commonly affected by acne, says the report.

The third leading cause of disability was depressive disorders, more common among teenagers that in younger children.

The take-home message

The most common causes of death among kids worldwide, including diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections, are largely avoidable as pointed out by the authors of the study.

Also, while interventions exist to prevent or treat the top causes of unnecessary death and disability among children around the world, the results of this study show that they may be underused

There were limitations to the study however, as pointed out by the authors — many countries did not have exact records of causes of death.

Parents, do speak to your child’s paediatrican about any health concerns you may have in relation to your baby or older child.

Remember that there are vaccines that can protect your child against virulent diarrheal diseases, which, as stated by the report, are one of the leading causes of death among little ones worldwide.

Lower respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia can also be prevented with the appropriate medical intervention.

Do share your thoughts on this article by leaving a comment below. 

Reference: LiveScience

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