Infant and child mortality
Infant mortality usually refers to the death of children younger than one year. Child mortality, which is often used synonymously with infant mortality, is the death of children younger than five. Among the main causes are pneumonia, diarrhea – which causes dehydration – and infections in newborns, with malnutrition also posing a severe problem. As can be seen above, most countries with a high infant mortality rate are developing countries or emerging countries, most of which are located in Africa. Good health care and hygiene are crucial in reducing child mortality; among the countries with the lowest infant mortality rate are exclusively developed countries, whose inhabitants usually have access to clean water and comprehensive health care. Access to vaccinations, antibiotics and a balanced nutrition also help reducing child mortality in these regions.
In some countries, infants are killed if they turn out to be of a certain gender. India, for example, is known as a country where a lot of girls are aborted or killed right after birth, as they are considered to be too expensive for poorer families, who traditionally have to pay a costly dowry on the girl’s wedding day. Interestingly, the global mortality rate among boys is higher than that for girls, which could be due to the fact that more male infants are actually born than female ones. Other theories include a stronger immune system in girls, or more premature births among boys.