OBJECTIVE: To determine levels and trends in the fatal and nonfatal burden of diseases and injuries among younger children (aged <5 years), older children (aged 5-9 years), and adolescents (aged 10-19 years) between 1990 and 2013 in 188 countries from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2013 study.
EVIDENCE REVIEW: Data from vital registration, verbal autopsy studies, maternal and child death surveillance, and other sources covering 14,244 site-years (ie, years of cause of death data by geography) from 1980 through 2013 were used to estimate cause-specific mortality. Data from 35,620 epidemiological sources were used to estimate the prevalence of the diseases and sequelae in the GBD 2013 study. Cause-specific mortality for most causes was estimated using the Cause of Death Ensemble Model strategy. For some infectious diseases (eg, HIV infection/AIDS, measles, hepatitis B) where the disease process is complex or the cause of death data were insufficient or unavailable, we used natural history models. For most nonfatal health outcomes, DisMod-MR 2.0, a Bayesian metaregression tool, was used to meta-analyze the epidemiological data to generate prevalence estimates.
FINDINGS: Of the 7.7 (95% uncertainty interval [UI], 7.4-8.1) million deaths among children and adolescents globally in 2013, 6.28 million occurred among younger children, 0.48 million among older children, and 0.97 million among adolescents. In 2013, the leading causes of death were lower respiratory tract infections among younger children (905.059 deaths; 95% UI, 810,304-998,125), diarrheal diseases among older children (38,325 deaths; 95% UI, 30,365-47,678), and road injuries among adolescents (115,186 deaths; 95% UI, 105,185-124,870). Iron deficiency anemia was the leading cause of years lived with disability among children and adolescents, affecting 619 (95% UI, 618-621) million in 2013. Large between-country variations exist in mortality from leading causes among children and adolescents. Countries with rapid declines in all-cause mortality between 1990 and 2013 also experienced large declines in most leading causes of death, whereas countries with the slowest declines had stagnant or increasing trends in the leading causes of death. In 2013, Nigeria had a 12% global share of deaths from lower respiratory tract infections and a 38% global share of deaths from malaria. India had 33% of the world's deaths from neonatal encephalopathy. Half of the world's diarrheal deaths among children and adolescents occurred in just 5 countries: India, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Understanding the levels and trends of the leading causes of death and disability among children and adolescents is critical to guide investment and inform policies. Monitoring these trends over time is also key to understanding where interventions are having an impact. Proven interventions exist to prevent or treat the leading causes of unnecessary death and disability among children and adolescents. The findings presented here show that these are underused and give guidance to policy makers in countries where more attention is needed.
Objective: To quantify and describe levels and trends of mortality and nonfatal health outcomes among children and adolescents from 1990 to 2015 to provide a framework for policy discussion.
Evidence Review: Cause-specific mortality and nonfatal health outcomes were analyzed for 195 countries and territories by age group, sex, and year from 1990 to 2015 using standardized approaches for data processing and statistical modeling, with subsequent analysis of the findings to describe levels and trends across geography and time among children and adolescents 19 years or younger. A composite indicator of income, education, and fertility was developed (Socio-demographic Index [SDI]) for each geographic unit and year, which evaluates the historical association between SDI and health loss.
Findings: Global child and adolescent mortality decreased from 14.18 million (95% uncertainty interval [UI], 14.09 million to 14.28 million) deaths in 1990 to 7.26 million (95% UI, 7.14 million to 7.39 million) deaths in 2015, but progress has been unevenly distributed. Countries with a lower SDI had a larger proportion of mortality burden (75%) in 2015 than was the case in 1990 (61%). Most deaths in 2015 occurred in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Global trends were driven by reductions in mortality owing to infectious, nutritional, and neonatal disorders, which in the aggregate led to a relative increase in the importance of noncommunicable diseases and injuries in explaining global disease burden. The absolute burden of disability in children and adolescents increased 4.3% (95% UI, 3.1%-5.6%) from 1990 to 2015, with much of the increase owing to population growth and improved survival for children and adolescents to older ages. Other than infectious conditions, many top causes of disability are associated with long-term sequelae of conditions present at birth (eg, neonatal disorders, congenital birth defects, and hemoglobinopathies) and complications of a variety of infections and nutritional deficiencies. Anemia, developmental intellectual disability, hearing loss, epilepsy, and vision loss are important contributors to childhood disability that can arise from multiple causes. Maternal and reproductive health remains a key cause of disease burden in adolescent females, especially in lower-SDI countries. In low-SDI countries, mortality is the primary driver of health loss for children and adolescents, whereas disability predominates in higher-SDI locations; the specific pattern of epidemiological transition varies across diseases and injuries.
Conclusions and Relevance: Consistent international attention and investment have led to sustained improvements in causes of health loss among children and adolescents in many countries, although progress has been uneven. The persistence of infectious diseases in some countries, coupled with ongoing epidemiologic transition to injuries and noncommunicable diseases, require all countries to carefully evaluate and implement appropriate strategies to maximize the health of their children and adolescents and for the international community to carefully consider which elements of child and adolescent health should be monitored.