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Quality care at birth could save nearly 3 million children

May 22, 2014

UN News Centre – The majority of the almost 3 million children who die before they turn one month old could be saved if they received quality care around the time of birth, according to the findings released today in a study supported by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which is urging additional attention and resources for this group of children.

“Focusing on the crucial period between labour and the first hours of life can exponentially increase the chances of survival for both mother and child,” said Mickey Chopra, head of UNICEF’s global health programmes.

While there has been “tremendous progress” in saving children under five, he said the world has stumbled in its progress to save the “very youngest, most vulnerable children.”

In its “Every Newborn Series” released today, The Lancet identified the most effective interventions in saving newborns including breastfeeding and new-born resuscitation. The series, co-authored by experts from UNICEF, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the Agha Khan University in Pakistan, among others, also commend ‘kangaroo care’ for premature babies, which consists of prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the mother.

According to UNICEF, 2.9 million babies die each year within their first 28 days. An additional 2.6 million babies are still-born, and 1.2 million of those deaths occur when the baby’s heart stops during labour.

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