Cry, the Newborn Baby

Each year, four million babies die in their first four weeks of life – over 10,000 deaths a day. Most of these neonatal deaths go unrecorded and remain invisible to all but their families. Virtually all (99%) occur in low- and middle-income countries, but most research and funding focuses on high-tech care for the 1% of deaths occurring in rich countries.

The greatest risk of death is at the beginning of life: three-quarters of all neonatal deaths (three million) occur within one week of birth, and at least one million babies die on their first day of life, many at home without any formal healthcare. Moreover, almost 40% of all child deaths occur in the neonatal period, with Africa and South Asia accounting for two-thirds of the total.

Unfortunately, child survival programs in the developing world have focused primarily on pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and vaccine-preventable causes of deaths after the first month of life, while safe motherhood programs have focused primarily on the mother. Prevention of newborn deaths has thus dropped between the cracks of programs focusing on mothers and on older children.

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