Across the world, in 2015, 5.9 million children under five died – that’s more than 15,000 every day. Around 70% of these deaths occurred within the first year of life, and almost half were in the first 28 days.

More than half of these young children would be alive today if they and their mothers had had access to simple, affordable interventions to ensure safe childbirth and newborn care.

Women and Children First works successfully to reduce these largely avoidable deaths in some of the poorest communities in developing countries. We help to improve the quality and accessibility of care for mothers and their babies, and mobilise communities, through women’s groups, to understand their health needs and have the confidence to demand the quality health care that is their right.


  • Under-five mortality rate: The probability of dying between birth and five years of age over a specific period, expressed per 1,000 live births.
  • Infant mortality rate: The probability of dying between birth and one year of age, over a specific period, expressed per 1,000 live births.
  • Newborn or neonatal mortality rate: The number of deaths during the first 28 completed days of life per 1,000 live births in a given year or period.
  • Perinatal mortality: The number of stillbirths and deaths in the first week of life per 1,000 live births.

Key Statistics

Children in sub-Saharan Africa are about 14 times more likely to die before the age of five than children in developed regions. 1 child in 12 in sub-Saharan Africa dies before his or her fifth birthday, whereas in wealthier nations, this number is only one out of 147. Read more on key statistics...

Developing Countries

Three-quarters of all deaths of under-fives are concentrated in just two regions of the world: 46% in Africa and 28% in South-east Asia, where the risk of a child dying before reaching the age of five is many times higher than in a high-income country. Read more on newborn health in developing countries...

Causes of Infant Mortality

2.7 million babies die every year in their first month of life and a similar number are stillborn. Within the first month, up to one half of all deaths occur within the first 24 hours of life, and 75% occur in the first week. Prematurity, pneumonia, complications during labour and delivery, diarrhoea, sepsis, and malaria are leading causes of death for children under 5 years old. Nearly half of all under-five deaths are associated with undernutrition. Read more on the causes of infant mortality...


Some two-thirds of child deaths are preventable through practical, low-cost interventions. Strengthening health systems is a key element in increasing survival rates, but this is not enough on its own. Read more on prevention...

How You Can Help

Every £5 you give can improve a mother's chance of surviving pregnancy and childbirth. And her baby stands a better chance of reaching his or her first birthday. That's an amazing gift to give. Click here to donate now.


Next: Infant Mortality - Key Statistics