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20/02/2018 10:09 GMT | Updated 20/02/2018 12:19 GMT

Babies Born In UK More Likely To Die In First Month Than Cuba and Latvia, UNICEF Report Finds

'The majority of these deaths are preventable.'

Babies born in the United Kingdom are more likely to die in the first month than if they were born than Latvia, Lithuania, Cuba or Montenegro.

These were the results of a Unicef analysis - ’Every Child Alive’ - that found every year, 2.6 million babies around the world die before they are a month old.

The most dangerous place for a baby to be born was Pakistan, where one in 22 babies die within their first month. The safest place was Japan, where one in every 1,111 babies die within a month. 

In the UK, one in every 385 babies die within the first month of being born.

“While we have more than halved the number of deaths among children under the age of five in the last quarter century, we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one month old,” said Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF’s executive director. “Given that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly, we are failing the world’s poorest babies.” 

UNICEF/UN0157432/Ayene

Globally, in low-income countries, the average newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1,000 births, the report states.

In high-income countries, that rate is three deaths per 1,000. Newborns from the riskiest places to give birth are up to 50 times more likely to die than those from the safest places.

The report stated more than 80% of newborn deaths were due to prematurity, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis.

“These deaths can be prevented with access to well-trained midwives, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact and good nutrition,” they stated.

“However, a shortage of well-trained health workers and midwives means that thousands don’t receive the life-saving support they need to survive.”

In response to the findings, Dr Clea Harmer, chief executive at Sands (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity), said: “The rate of babies dying in the first month of life in the UK has remained almost static for three years with little progress on reduction. Many of them are born too early in pregnancy, but we don’t always know how to prevent prematurity. 

“Inequality continues to be an issue in England where there’s a noticeable north-south divide with the rate of babies who die in the first month of life in the north of England being almost double that of the rate in the south. Women who live in the most socially deprived areas are at higher risk of their newborns dying, and smoking is also a factor as 20% of women whose newborn dies are smokers.  

“Fundamentally though we need more focus on delivering vulnerable babies in the right place with the right care if we want to save more lives.”

The report also noted that eight of the 10 most dangerous places to be born are in sub-Saharan Africa, where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions.

“If every country brought its newborn mortality rate down to the high-income average by 2030, 16 million lives could be saved,” they wrote.

Highest newborn mortality rates:

1. Pakistan: 1 in 22 

2. Central African Republic: 1 in 24

3. Afghanistan: 1 in 25

4. Somalia: 1 in 26

5. Lesotho: 1 in 26

6. Guinea-Bissau: 1 in 26

South Sudan: 1 in 26

8. Côte d’Ivoire: 1 in 27

9. Mali: 1 in 28 

10. Chad: 1 in 28

Lowest newborn mortality rates:

1. Japan: 1 in 1,111 

2. Iceland: 1 in 1,000

3. Singapore: 1 in 909

4. Finland: 1 in 833

5. Estonia: 1 in 769

5. Slovenia: 1 in 769

7. Cyprus: 1 in 714

8. Belarus: 1 in 667

8. Luxembourg: 1 in 667

8. Norway: 1 in 667

8. Republic of Korea: 1 in 667

UNICEF is launching the global campaign Every Child ALIVE to demand solutions on behalf of the world’s newborns. The charity is issuing an urgent appeal to governments, health care providers, donors, the private sector, families and businesses to keep every child alive by:

:: Recruiting, training, retaining and managing sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives with expertise in maternal and newborn care;

:: Guaranteeing clean, functional health facilities equipped with water, soap and electricity, within the reach of every mother and baby;

:: Making it a priority to provide every mother and baby with the life-saving drugs and equipment needed for a healthy start in life; and 

:: Empowering adolescent girls, mothers and families to demand and receive quality care.

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