Around the globe, the leading cause of death for children younger than 5 is pneumonia, according to a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
About 18 percent of the deaths are from the infection. That’s 1.4 million kids out of 7.6 million who died around the world in 2010.
“The numbers are staggering,” said Dr. Robert Black, senior author of the study, published in the May issue of the Lancet.
Black, chairman in the Department of International Health, said other leading causes of death were pre-term birth complications and diarrhea. However, many deaths were not medically certified, so he said health officials need to strengthen reporting and accountability.
Overall, the researchers found that 64 percent of the deaths were due to infectious diseases.
The findings also suggested that the number of deaths between 2000 and 2010 were on the decline — by about 2 million — though not enough to reach world goals of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015.
Some causes of death that declined included tetanus, AIDS and malaria.