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International Health

December 19, 2016

China’s rapidly declining child mortality rate largely due to reductions in deaths caused by infectious diseases and injuries

Causes of death
National and subnational all-cause and cause-specific child mortality in China, 1996–2015, The Lancet Global Health

A new study found that China’s under-5 child mortality declined by 80% over the past two decades. Nationally, mortality rates declined from 50.8 per 1,000 livebirths to 10.7 per 1,000 livebirths between 1996 and 2015. The study, published today in The Lancet Global Health, was led jointly by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the China National Office of Maternal and Child Health Surveillance.

The decline in under-5 deaths could be attributed largely to reductions in deaths caused by injuries and infectious diseases, including pneumonia and diarrhea. Declines in mortality rates were seen across regions, age groups, and cause-of-death categories. Great disparities, however, still exist. The Western region and rural areas lag far behind other regions and urban areas. They, therefore, should receive more attention to improving child survival through enhanced policy and programs. Furthermore, continued investment in primary and secondary prevention of deaths is crucial for reducing deaths due to congenital abnormalities and preterm birth complications, the two leading causes of deaths among children under-5 in China.

Key findings

National and subnational all-cause and cause-specific child mortality in China, 1996-2015: a systematic analysis with implications for the Sustainable Development Goals, was written by Chunhua He, Li Liu, Yue Chu, Jamie Perin, Li Dai, Xiaohong Li, Leni Kang, Qi Li, Robert Scherpbier, Sufang Guo, Igor Rudan, Peige Song, Kit Yee Chan, Yan Guo, Robert E Black, Yanping Wang and Jun Zhu, and was published online on The Lancet Global Health, November 19, 2016. doi: 10.1016/ S2214-109X(16)30334-5

Contact for the Department of International Health: Brandon Howard at 410-502-9059 or