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The global picture


Premature birth

Around the world 15 million babies are born premature every year, 60 per cent of these births take place in Africa and South Asia.

The three countries with the highest rate of preterm birth are (the numbers below are the numbers of babies who were born premature out of 100 babies born alive):

  1. Malawi - 18.1
  2. Comoros - 16.7
  3. Congo - 16.7

Find out more about premature birth around the world on the WHO website

Neonatal mortality - the number of babies who die within their first 28 days of life

  • The country with the highest neonatal mortality rate in the world is Angola, in Southern Africa, at a rate of 48.7 per 1000 births.
    • Other countries with high rates of neonatal mortality are in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. These include Pakistan, Guinea-Bisseau, Afghanistan, Chad, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
  • The countries that have the lowest rates include Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland and Andorra.
  • The UK ranks well globally, but has the second worst neonatal mortality rate in Western Europe, at 1.4 per 1,000 births. The only country that has a higher rate is Malta, with a rate of 2.1 deaths per 1,000 births.

Sadly 1 million children die each year from the complication of premature birth and globally, it’s the leading cause of death in children under 5.

On 17 November each year, Bliss joins with organisations from around the world to raise awareness of premature birth and take action for babies born too soon. Read more about World Prematurity Day.



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