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Stark reality. One million babies die within 24 hours of birth

A startling and horrifying statistic emerges from a Report just issued by the Save the Children Fund.    It can only be seen as shameful that in a world with such abundant riches, some 1 million babies die within 24 hours of being born.

"Nearly three million babies die within the first month of life – more than one million on the same day they are born – largely from preventable causes, according to a new report published today.

Newborn deaths today account for 43 percent of all child deaths, up from 36 percent in 1990, the report said. The highest newborn mortality rates were in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of newborns who died each year slightly increased in that time period.

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"Sixty-five percent of all newborn deaths occur in just 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, according to the report. Somalia had the highest mortality rate, and India had the greatest number of deaths, among babies who die the day they are born.

And yet, according to Save the Children, effective and low-cost interventions exist that, combined with trained health workers and increased access to quality healthcare, could reduce newborn mortality by up to 75 percent. The report said that such efforts have helped resource-poor countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, and Malawi each dramatically reduce its newborn death rate by more than 40 percent since 1990.

The leading causes of newborn death are preterm birth, birth complications, and infections, the report noted. In an example of the impact that one low-cost intervention could have, the report found that to reduce the number of babies that die because of prematurity, an event that causes 35 percent of all newborn deaths, a steroid injection for mothers that costs only US$0.51 could save 340,000 newborns each year."

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