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41 of Every 1000 Kids Die Below the Age of 5: Poor Mothers’ Health, a Contributory Factor

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  • India accounts for around 16% of worlds under-5 mortalities (U5M).
  • In Haryana, for every 1000 kids younger than 5 years, 36 and 44 children die in urban and rural areas, respectively.
  • Poor health of women from the time of childhood and adolescence is a significant factor contributing to U5M in the state.

Across the world, around 56 lakh children died before the age of 5 years, while in the same year, 9 lakh children died in India, accounting for around 16% of the world’s under-5 deaths.

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As for Haryana, 41 of every 1000 children die below the age of 5 years. While the urban areas report 36 deaths per thousand under-5 children, rural areas of the state report a much higher 44 deaths.

“Children between 0 and 59 months die because of several factors, with premature birth, pregnancy and birth related complications, and infections causing most under-5 deaths in the country.  The main diseases causing deaths include diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia and respiratory infections, while malnutrition and poor growth are silent but vital factors causing death to lakhs of children nationwide. Unfortunately, India continues to have one of the highest under-5 mortality (U5M) rates in the world”, said Dr Sorabh Goel, Consultant Neonatology Paras Bliss Panchkula.

While children may be dying due to premature birth, diseases and infections, malnutrition is a major factor that reduces survival rate sharply. Children at the stage of 0 to 5 years need good nutrition for overall growth and development as well as to develop immunity; however, non-availability of nutritious food and poor purchasing power of families mean a child’s growth is hampered, leading to underdeveloped brain, weak immunity, and poor health.

However, one aspect which directly affects the health of a child but is often considered secondary is the health of the mother, who not only bears the child through 9 months of pregnancy, but also is primarily responsible for source for nutritious food for a new born baby.

“It needs to be noted that 70% of Indian adolescent girls are anemic and suffer from poor nutrition. Nearly half of these girls are below normal body mass index. All these factors have significant effect on future pregnancies and children. In Haryana itself, 55% of pregnant women are anemic. Therefore, it is imaginable why 41 per 1000 children under the age of 5 years fail to survive”, said Dr Shilva, Senior Consultant Obstetrics and Gynecology, Paras Bliss Panchkula

Studies have observed that children born to literate and educated mothers have higher rate or survival, and at the same time, those born to mothers below the age of 20 have highest rate of U5M. This is reflective of the fact that educated mothers are better equipped to take care of themselves and their child’s health, while girls who become mothers in late adolescence have weaker health to support a baby, especially in poorer economic sections of the society.     

Prenatal health of mother is an important indication of her child’s health and survival. An expecting woman need to avail proper pregnancy related care and medical consultation, which are lacking in large parts of the state.

As the majority of children die due to preventable diseases, access to primary healthcare services is essential for rural and poorer population. Malnutrition needs to be countered effectively throughout the state, with cheaper nutritional alternatives be made available to the underprivileged, along with quality healthcare. To bring the under-5 mortality rates down in the state of Haryana, massive efforts need to be rallied to ensure multiple challenges in providing mother and child care, nutrition, and affordable and accessible healthcare are well addressed.

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