|Divergent age patterns of under-5 mortality in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa: a modelling study|
||Andrea Verhulst, Julio Romero Prieto, Nurul Alam, Hallie Eilerts-Spinelli, Daniel J Erchick, Patrick Gerland, Joanne Katz, Bruno Lankoande, Li Liu, Gilles Pison, Georges Reniers, Seema Subedi, Francisco Villavicencio, and Prof Michel Guillot
||Lancet, Volume 10, issue 11; DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(22)00337-0
Children under five
More than one region
Understanding the age pattern of under-5 mortality is essential for identifying the most vulnerable ages and underlying causes of death, and for assessing why the decline in child mortality is slower in some countries and subnational areas than others. The aim of this study is to detect age patterns of under-5 mortality that are specific to low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs).
In this modelling study, we used data from 277 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHSs), 58 Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems (HDSSs), two cohort studies, and two sample-registration systems. From these sources, we collected child date of birth and date of death (or age at death) from LMICs between 1966 and 2020. We computed 22 deaths rates from each survey with the following age breakdowns: 0, 7, 14, 21, and 28 days; 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 18, and 21 months; and 2, 3, 4, and 5 years. We assessed how probabilities of dying estimated for the 22 age groups deviated from predictions generated by a vital registration model that reflects the historical mortality of 25 high-income countries.
We calculated mortality rates of 81 LMICs between 1966 and 2020. In contrast with the other regions of the world, we found that under-5 mortality in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa was characterised by increased mortality at both ends of the age range (ie, younger than 28 days and older than 6 months) at a given level of mortality. Observed mortality in these regions was up to 2 times higher than predicted by the vital registration model for the younger-than-28 days age bracket, and up to 10 times higher than predicted for the older-than-6 months age bracket. This age pattern of under-5 mortality is significant in 17 countries in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Excess mortality in children older than 6 months without excess mortality in children younger than 28 days was found in 38 countries. In south Asia, results were consistent across data sources. In sub-Saharan Africa, excess mortality in children younger than 28 days was found mostly in DHSs; the majority of HDSSs did not show this excess mortality. We have attributed this difference in data sources mainly to omissions of early deaths in HDSSs.
In countries with age patterns of under-5 mortality that diverge from predictions, evidence-based public health interventions should focus on the causes of excess of mortality; notably, the effect of fetal growth restriction and infectious diseases. The age pattern of under-5 mortality will be instrumental in assessing progress towards the decline of under-5 mortality and the Sustainable Development Goals.