What steps we can take for decreasing the mortality rate among small Children’s ?


Mortality rate of children in the world is very high especially in the developing countries. One child out of every three in the world dies under the age of five and if developing countries about 25000 young children dies every week. The reason for such a high mortality rate among children is infection and under nutrition and we shall discuss them here in detail.

1. Infection

Various diseases, which affect small children, are diarrhea, tetanus, measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis, diphtheria and polio. Maximum infant deaths are caused by diarrhea. Diarrhea leads to loss of body fluid through loose motion and vomiting.

This state may lead to dehydration. About 70% of diarrhea cases in infants can be saved from death if dehydration is prevented by giving them a mixture of salt and sugar and water about five to six times a day. To prepare the mixture three teaspoonfuls of sugar, a quarter teaspoonful of salt, a few drops of lemon juice and a pinch of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) should be added to a glass of ware and stirred well to dissolve the contents. This mixture should be freshly prepared each time before feeding. In a solution which has been prepared long before, harmful microbes may be present because sugar is a good nutrient for microbial growth.


In addition to the above mentioned solution, dilute soups and dals, rice, water and butter milk may be fed to compensate for water loss. All prolonged or severe cases of diarrhea should be referred to a physician.

Measles, tetanus, whooping cough (or pertusis), diphtheria ad tuberculosis are some other major diseases which cause deaths of lakhs of children. A large number of children become permanently crippled by polio. All these diseases can be prevented by immunizing the children against these diseases. Small children in the first year of their age should be vaccinated in order to immunize them against these diseases.

Vaccine for tuberculosis is called BCG and vaccine for diphtheria, pertusis and tetanus is called DPT. Vaccine for disease like measles and polio are also known. All these vaccines can be given to the children as an injection or an oral dose. Even the pregnant mothers should be immunized against tetanus as it protects the unborn baby as well as mother against tetanus.

However, in spite of these vaccines being available, still a large number of children die every year because people are not aware of these preventions. To prevent such premature deaths our government has launched a massive programme to immunize all children and mothers. Pneumonia is another serious disease, which alone claims the lives of lakhs of children mostly under the age of five. It is a disease of the lungs, and should not be confused with bad cough or other lung infections. If detected well in time then many lives can be saved by curing the disease with antibiotics.

2. Malnutrition

Malnutrition is the biggest enemy of children and about 45 lakhs children die annually because of this factor alone. In developing countries such as India, the main reason of malnutrition is poverty. To prevent deaths of small children due to malnutrition, they should be properly attended to in crucial years of their lives. For this:


1. A pregnant mother should be given balanced diet and other necessary care during pregnancy so that child is strong at birth having good body weight.

2. Child should be breast-fed so that it has a good start to build its natural defences. A breast-fed child gets all the nutrients and antibiotics, which help, in developing immunity against diseases. It is very unfortunate that a large number of mothers in our country cannot feed their children with breast milk because of the following reasons:

(i) Mother themselves remains under-nourished because of poverty and therefore cannot breast-feed their babies for along time.


(ii) They have too many children too soon. Arrival of children one after the other affects the growth and a care of children. So proper spacing between the births of children is very essential.

In order to decrease mortality rate among small children following should be taken:

1. Infants should be vaccinated against common diseases.

2. Infants and small children should be given proper medical care at right time.


3. Pregnant mother should be given balanced diet and immunized against diseases. This ensures freedom from prenatal (pre-birth) infections.

4. Small children should be breast-fed for long time to develop natural immunity in them.

5. Pregnancy should b planned. Parents should give a serious thought to the needs of first child before having a second child.

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