HealthDay News — Complications from premature birth and pneumonia were the leading cause of death for nearly two million children aged less than five years in 2013, study findings published in The Lancet indicate.

“Trend data for causes of child death are crucial to inform priorities for improving child survival by and beyond 2015,” noted Li Liu, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University in Balitmore, and colleagues.

In all, more than six million children aged less than five years died in 2013, said the researchers. Examining the leading causes of death, they found that nearly 52% of children died from infectious diseases such as pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea.

Continue Reading

The highest numbers of deaths among children aged younger than five years were in China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Together, these nations accounted for about half of all deaths globally in this age group in 2013.

Table 1: Deaths resulting from complications

Complications Number of deaths
Premature birth 965,000
Pneumonia 935,000
Childbirth complications 662,000

Although child mortality rates fell from approximately 77 to 46 per 1,000 live births between 2000 and 2013, the investigators predicted that 4.4 million children aged less than 5 years will die in 2030 if current trends continue. An anticipated 60% of the deaths will occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

“More evidence is needed about shifts in timing, causes, and places of under-five deaths to inform child survival agendas by and beyond 2015, to end preventable child deaths in a generation,” concluded the researchers.


  1. Liu L et al. The Lancet. 2014; doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61698-6


This study was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.