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Preterm complications leading cause of death among Indian children under the age of five in 2015

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

complications was the leading cause of death among Indian children under the age of five in 2015, followed by pneumonia, intrapartum-related events and diarrhoea, according to two studies published in

complications accounted for 25.5 per cent of the under 5 mortality, followed by pneumonia, a largely preventable but sometimes deadly infectious disease, which accounted for 15.9 per cent of such deaths.

Intrapartum-related events (during labour and after birth) and diarrhoea made for 11.1 per cent and 8.9 per cent of such deaths respectively.

The studies highlighted that had more deaths among children under five than any other country in 2015, with large disparities in the child mortality rates between richer and poorer states.

Most (57.9 percent) of deaths among Indian children under five in 2015 occurred in the first four weeks of life - the neonatal period, one of them stated.

were more often among the top causes of child deaths in poorer and high mortality states.

Published in Global Health, the studies used data from and elsewhere to estimate the causes of death among children under five years of age between 2000 and 2015.

The researchers at the School of Public Health in the US analysed state-level Indian data on the causes of death among children under five for the years 2000-2015.

(84,362) recorded the highest number of complications in 2015, followed by (36,289), (35,503) and (30,402).

Uttar Pradeh (53,681) again topped the list among deaths of children under five due to followed by (25,052), Madhya Pradeesh (21,693) and (14,467).

Intrapartum related events caused the most deaths in (36,685), (16,280), (10,400) and and Telangana together (7822).

For diarrhoea, the states with the most deaths were (35 381 plus) followed by Bihar (15,966), (12 575+) and (7274+).

The researchers also estimated that two leading bacterial causes of pneumoniaStreptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)accounted for 69,000 and 16,000 deaths in children under five, respectively, in in 2015.

These bacteria can also cause life threatening cases of and other in children.

The researchers estimated that there was an 81 per cent decline in Hib deaths and 58 per cent decline in pneumococcal deaths between 2000 and 2015.

The sustained use of the Hib-containing pentavalent vaccine helped accelerate the reduction of deaths, said Dr Brian Wahl, an in the at the School of Public Health and of one of the studies.

"The scale-up of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine will help further accelerate the reduction of deaths due to Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is one of the leading single killers of children in India," said Dr Wahl, who works in the at the School.

The researchers found that India made great progress during the period, reducing annual mortality among children under five from 2.5 million in 2000 to 1.2 million in 2015 -- which was still the highest in the world.

However, among India's states, great disparities remained: The highest mortality rate in was more than seven times that in

"India can accelerate its reduction of under-five mortality rates by scaling up vaccine coverage and improving childbirth and neonatal care, especially in states where mortality rates remain high," said Li Liu, PhD, at the Bloomberg School.

To accelerate India's progress against child mortality, the team recommended more extensive use of vaccines, particularly against pneumonia- and meningitis-causing Streptococcus pneumoniae and Hib.

They also advocated -- especially for higher-mortality regions -- a scaling up of standard care strategies for newborns, including "kangaroo care" in which the baby rests against the mother's skin, thermal care to reduce and early initiation of breastfeeding.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 16:11 IST