MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Nicholas Kassebaum, MD Assistant Professor
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
University of Washington
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Reducing deaths of young children has been an international priority over the past few decades, and much progress has been made in this regard. Comprehensive and timely measurement of death and disease burden among children and adolescents is essential for improving the health of young people. Analyzing the latest estimates from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD), the current study quantifies and describes levels and trends of mortality and disease burden among children and adolescents under the age of 19 from 1990 to 2015.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Deaths among children and adolescents fell worldwide from nearly 14.2 million deaths in 1990 to just over 7.2 million deaths in 2015, but this global progress has been uneven. Most deaths of people under the age of 19 occur in countries of the lowest development status, and this proportion grew from 61% of total deaths in 1990 to 75% in 2015. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia continue to see the most under-19 deaths in 2015, but at the same time, these regions have seen marked progress in reducing deaths since 1990.
The study also looks at causes of child and adolescent deaths, finding that the top five causes of under-19 deaths are neonatal pre-term birth complications, lower respiratory tract infections, neonatal encephalopathy due to asphyxia, diarrheal diseases, and congenital anomalies. Leading causes of death differ, however, by geography, development status, and age group.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Investment and attention of the global health community have led to great improvements in child survival and health loss in many countries over the years, but more can be done. Infectious disease, while decreasing as a cause of death and burden on a global level, continues to plague children and adolescents in many countries. And while more children are living past their fifth birthdays, they are not necessarily living in greater health.
The current study should be used to shape the conversation around preventing death and disease burden of children and adolescents.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: In order to improving, countries should examine the health status of their children and adopt measures to address known and emerging challenges. A comprehensive approach to prevention, treatment, and maximizing long-term potential requires using evidence-based approaches and using evidence to identify where they are most needed.
We are very lucky to work with a large, international group of dedicated collaborators, without whom studies like this would not be possible.
(Please see the paper for list of disclosures.)
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The Global Burden of Disease Child and Adolescent Health Collaboration. Child and Adolescent Health From 1990 to 2015Findings From the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors 2015 Study. JAMA Pediatr. Published online April 03, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.0250
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