Having a baby is supposed to be the most joyous time of a women’s life. However, not always do things go as planned and far too often what is supposed to be the happiest time of a mother’s life ends in tragedy.
Despite advances in medical care, newborn mortality rates in some of the most impoverished countries in the world remain alarmingly high.

Ashawa, Dohuk Governorate, Northern Iraq — UNICEF Officials visit Ahmedi Hospital to review the implementation of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. Photo credit: UN Photo/Bikem Ekberzade

How much do you really know when it comes to the unacceptable toll of newborn deaths, around the world?

Did you know that nearly 3 million newborns die each year globally?

Did you know that 99% of these newborns die in low- and middle-income countries?

Did you know that a newborn is 45X times more likely to die in the first month of life, when compared to age 1 month to 5 years?

Did you know that the major causes of newborn death are prematurity, infection, and birth asphyxia when a baby’s brain and other organs do not get enough oxygen before, during or right after birth are?

Did you know that complications of preterm birth are the second leading cause of death in children before their fifth birthday?

And, did you know that the majority of these newborn deaths can be prevented?

Per Dr. Gary Darmstadt of the Gates Foundation:

“For too long these facts and more–what we call the global newborn health agenda–have been off the radar.  While the world has seen progress in addressing childhood illnesses in poorer countries, including pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea, we haven’t seen nearly as much progress in tackling newborn deaths, which now account for about 40 percent of the deaths of children under age 5 around the world”.

A child at the Indira Gandhi hospital in Kabul.
Despite a decrease of 26 per cent in under five mortality and 23 per cent in infant mortality, Afghanistan’s health indicators remain one of the worst in the world. Photo Credit: UN Photo/Fardin Waezi. 

I personally will never forget my own experience. My newborn daughter was only hours old, being examined by my pediatrition when my doctor came in to inform me that my brand new baby had turned blue and stopped breathing. Miraculously, she regained her breath and color within seconds yet had to remain in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for two days. Afterwards while I recovered and worried, she went from blue to yellow and had to stay a week longer in the hospital with jaundice. Thanks to modern technology, we were able to leave the hospital healthy after a week.

Forty-one years ago my own mother had a similar scare when I was born a month premature with a heart defect. Fearing the worst, I stayed in the hospital for a month and was able to leave but was not flourishing and would possibiliy need open heart surgery to repair the defect. Once again, a miracle occurred and my heart adapted and adjusted allowing me to grow up healthy enjoying a highly active life.

A member of our team, The Global Team of 200, Kristine McCormick lost her own beautiful newborn, Cora, back in 2009 and today has become an important advocate for newborn health.

Watch this precious YouTube Video of Kristine and Cora’s story:

As part of the Global Team of 200, we are working with the Gates Foundation this month to spread word and awareness about global newborn health in honor of The Global Newborn Health Conference being held on April 15th in South Africa. The conference is supported by Save the Children. MCHIP, Gates Foundation, USAID and UNICEF.
Medical assistance to IDPs in Kutum
9 August 2012. Kutum: A baby, resident in Kassab camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), in Kutum (North Darfur), waits to be examined by doctors. Photo by Albert González Farran – UNAMID

How to get involved:

Post resources:

“Did you know facts”? – Gates Foundation, Impatient Optimists, “What You Might Not Know About Saving Newborn Lives” by Gary Darmstadt, Cyril Engmann.

Additional reading:

“Continuing the Newborn Health and Survival Conversation #Newborn2013” – Mom Bloggers for Social Good




  1. I shared your experience with my second child…….
    Thank you for telling us your personal story,and congrats for all your commitment in helping children!

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