A new study in the Lancet offers good news in showing that death rates in children under 5 are dropping in many countries, according to data from 187 nations from 1970 to 2010. The study notes that 7.7 million children are expected to die this year around the world. That number is still huge, but it’s significantly lower than the 11.9 kids who died in 1990.
The researchers say several low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing an accelerated decline in child mortality. While the study does not explain the reasons for this decline, the researchers speculate that it could be due to health interventions such as immunizations, insecticide-treated nets, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, or antiretroviral drugs.
The task of lowering these mortality rates is complex; the heavy lifting to keep these numbers headed in the right direction is far from over. At Cincinnati Children’s, we are tackling the issue from a variety of perspectives – sort of a full-court press, if you will.
These efforts include pursuing new vaccines to stop deadly childhood diseases in their tracks. We’re proud that Rotarix, the rotavirus vaccine invented here, is saving the lives of tens of thousands of children around the world each year.
Our Center for Global Child Health is a leader in vaccine research worldwide. We have shown, among other things, how the flu vaccine not only protects pregnant women safely, but also the children they’re carrying – a finding that has led to recommendations of flu vaccination in many countries.
But the work goes much deeper. In the Cincinnati Children’s Perinatal Institute, we are diving into the earliest stages of development to find the causes of prematurity – problems that are invisible to the naked eye and push the limits of scientific knowledge.
And, at the Cincinnati Children’s Center for Health Policy and Clinical Effectiveness, we’re looking at the myriad of external influences that affect the well-being of children and everyone else.
It’s a big job and a challenge we are committed to winning, both at home and around the world.