The global picture

Read global statistics for prematurity and neonatal mortality.

The global picture

It is known that the methods for recording births and deaths can vary globally. There are a number of leading causes of childhood mortality across the world. These causes affect some countries more than others.

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

Find out more about the causes of childhood and infant mortality on the WHO website

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 Pakistan, at a rate of 44.2 per 1,000 live births.

Other countries with high rates of neonatal mortality are in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. These include Central African Republic, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

Countries that have the lowest rates include Japan (0.9 per 1,000 live births) and Iceland (1 per 1,000 live births).

The UK ranks well globally, however, whilst the rate of neonatal mortality has improved since 1990, latest figures stand at 2.6 per 1,000 live births.

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.

Download references

Download the reference list for statistics on this page