Category Archives: Preterm Birth

Why Reaching the Age of Five in Developing Countries is Critical to Survival

Every year over seven million children in developing countries die before the critical age of five. Research shows that once children reach the age of five they have an increased chance of surviving through adulthood, but there are several challenges they must overcome first.

This April, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), along with key partners including ONE, launched Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday, a global effort to raise awareness about the prevention methods and tools that can save the lives of millions of children every year. Most of the seven million child deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia where diseases like malaria, pneumonia, and other communicable diseases, diarrhea, pre-term birth complications, hunger and malnutrition as well as other causes take the lives of over 20,000 children a day. In fact, one in eight children die in sub-Saharan Africa before the age of five.

There is hope and progress has been made. Child mortality rates have been reduced by 70% over the last 50 years according to USAID, but progress cannot slow.

Millions of children’s lives can be saved through preventative measures such as insecticide-treated bed nets, low-cost vaccines, improved access to clean water and sanitation, medications for expecting mothers that prevent transmission of HIV to their babies, and access to proper nutrition and adequate food.

On June 14 – 15 USAID along with India’s and Ethiopia’s governments will convene the Child Survival Call to Action event at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. During the two-day event high-level talks with stakeholders, partners, members of civil society and the faith community will take place around the issue of ending the millions of preventable child deaths.

The Child Survival Call to Action event will be streamed online on June 14 and a robust conversation will take place via social media under the #5thBDay hashtag.

You can learn more about Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday at

Photo: UN Photo/Stuart Price

Our First Knowledge Partner: IDEAS From the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

I am excited to announce our very first knowledge partner, IDEAS, a program launched in the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Over the course of our partnership we will share a great deal from IDEAS’ research in Ethiopia, India, and Nigera about maternal and newborn health.

IDEAS (Informed Decisions for Actions) aims to improve the health and survival of mothers and babies through generating evidence to inform policy and practice. Working in Ethiopia, North-Eastern Nigeria and the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, IDEAS uses measurement, learning and evaluation to find out what works, why and how in maternal and newborn health programmes.

Follow IDEAS’ blog at

Follow IDEAS on Twitter at @LSHTM_IDEAS.

Photo Copyrights:
Mother with children in Ethiopia, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Visiting a rural village in Uttar Pradesh: Dr Bilal Avan, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Newly Released Data on Preterm Birth

Yesterday the World Health Organization along with some of its key partners released Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth. In it, two key data points stood out. 15 million babies are born each year prematurely and 1.1 million of them die due to complications of preterm birth. Preterm birth is now the second leading cause of death for children under the age of five behind pneumonia.

These numbers are staggering and stand in the way of reaching the Millineum Development Goal of reducing childhood mortality by two thirds by 2015. According to the United Nations, the rate of child deaths is falling, but not rapidly enough.

The majority of preterm births occur in some of the poorest developing nations in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. You will probably be surprised to learn that the United States is one of the leading countries, despite our wealth, with large numbers of preterm births. In fact, the United States is one of the top 10 countries where preterm births occur. See the interactive map of preterm birth rates.

Through this report the World Health Organization is calling for greater investments, innovations, and research to help reduce the amount of preterm births and subsequent deaths. There is a new projected goal for 2025 to reduce the amount of preterm births by 50% in countries that have 5 preterm births per 1,000 live births according to the report. And for countries that have less than 5 preterm births per live 1,000 live births the goal is to eliminate all premature births.

Read the full report at