Newborn care

Last update: January 2024 | Next update: January 2025

The first month of life is the most vulnerable period

Deaths in the first month of life, which are mostly preventable, represent 46 per cent of total  deaths among children under five  in 2021. While mortality among children under five declines globally, deaths among these children are becoming more concentrated in the first days of life. This makes the focus on newborn care more critical than ever before. In 2021, an estimated 2.3 million children died in their first month of life, which is approximately 6,400 newborns every day, with about a third of all neonatal deaths occurring within the first day after birth and close to three quarters occurring within the first week of life. Despite ongoing challenges, major progress has been made in improving neonatal survival. Neonatal mortality is on the decline globally with the world’s neonatal mortality rate falling from 37 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 18 per 1,000 live births in 2021. The result is a drop in neonatal deaths worldwide from 5.2 million in 1990 to 2.3 million in 2021. However, this decline of 55 per cent is slower than the rate of decline among children under five years of age (61 per cent). 

The large majority of newborn deaths (78 per cent) are due to complications related to prematurity, intrapartum events such as birth asphyxia and trauma, congenital abnormalities and lower respiratory infections. Thus, targeting the time around birth with proven high impact interventions and quality care for small and sick newborns may prevent close to 80 per cent of newborn deaths. The  Every Newborn Action Plan  calls for an increased focus on the time around birth with targeted high impact interventions as a strategy for reducing not only newborn deaths but also maternal deaths and stillbirths, generating a triple return in investment. 


Newborn care data

Maternal and Newborn Health Coverage