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Levels and Trends in Child Mortality Report 2018

A new study by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation released on 18 September 2018 reveals that the world has made considerable progress in reducing child mortality since 1990. The under-five morality rate has declined by 58 per cent since 1990, and the number of under-five deaths dropped from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.4 million in 2017.


Key findings: 

  • The remarkable progress in improving child survival since 1990.
  • In 2017, 5.5 million children under five years old died (15,000 every day) compared to 12.6 million in 1990 (34,000 every day)
  • Globally, under five mortality rate dropped to 39 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017 from 93 in 1990 – a 58 per cent decline.
  • The mortality among children aged 5-14 declined by 52 per cent from 1.7 million to 0.9 million.
  • The majority of child and young adolescent deaths occurred during the earliest ages with 85 per cent of the 6.3 million deaths in 2017 occurring in the first five years of life.
  • Most children under five died from preventable or treatable causes like complications during birth, pneumonia, diarrhoea, neonatal sepsis and malaria.
  • In 2017, children and young adolescent faced the highest risk of dying in the first month of life with an average of 18 deaths per 1,000 live births globally.
  • Globally, the neonatal mortality rate fell by 49 per cent from 37 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 18 in 2017, but that decline was slower than the decline in mortality among children aged 1─59 months.
  • In 2017, 2.5 million children died in the first month of life – accounting for 46 per cent of all under-five deaths, increasing from 41 per cent in 2000.
  • In 2017 alone, some 4.4 million lives would have been saved had under-five mortality in each country been as low as in the lowest mortality country in the region.
  • On current trends, 56 million children under 5 years of age are projected to die between 2018 and 2030.
  • In 2017, 118 countries already had an under-five mortality rate below the SDG target of a mortality rate as low as 25 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • More than 50 countries need to accelerate progress to meet the SDG target on under-five mortality.
  • In the 50 some countries falling behind would achieve the SDG target on child survival, 10 million lives of children under age 5 could be saved.

Data and methodology:

This new release provides the most up-to-date comprehensive information on child mortality worldwide, including a public database containing about 18,000 country-year data points from more than 1,500 series across 195 countries from 1990 (or earlier, up to 1940) to 2017 for mortality of children younger than 5 years taking into account all available nationally-representative data from vital registration systems, population censuses, household surveys, and sample registration systems as of September 2017.

In this round of estimation, a substantial amount of newly available data has been added to the underlying database for under-five, infant and neonatal mortality. Data from 59 new surveys or censuses were added for 44 countries and data from vital registration systems or sample vital registration systems were updated for 134 countries. In total, more than 6,700 country-year data points for 400 series were added or updated. For mortality among children aged 5–14 years, data were calculated from censuses and surveys, or vital registration records of population and deaths in the age group. The database for mortality among children aged 5–14 contains more than 5,500 data points.

An overview on the methodology used to generate the estimates is available in this year's UN IGME report and in the Explanatory notes,

A more detailed explanation of the B3 model used in developing the UN IGME child mortality estimates is available here.

For more information on the child mortality estimation methods, refer to the PLOS Medicine Collection on Child Mortality Estimation Methods.