The 10 Leading Causes of Death In Kids Around the World

In the U.S., more kids die every year from car accidents than from anything else (so buckle in those car seats nice and tight, moms). But researchers working on a Global Burden of Disease study -- published in the medical journal The Lancet -- wanted to figure out what sorts of things kill the most kids worldwide, and you might be surprised by what they found. It turns out the measles killed more children in the world than car accidents in 2013. It kills more than most other things, actually ... it's the seventh highest cause of child mortality in the world, or it was two years ago, before the current measles outbreak.


So what you really want to know now is what's number one? Survey says lower respiratory infections, which is most common in forms like bronchitis, pneumonia, and the flu. Here's the full list (from highest to lowest) from the Global Burden of Disease study:

  1. Lower respiratory infections
  2. Malaria
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Nutritional deficiencies
  5. Birth defects
  6. Meningitis
  7. Measles
  8. Drowning
  9. Road injuries
  10. AIDS

A lot of these numbers come from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where good health care is hard to come by, and where the child mortality rate is 29 times higher than in industrialized countries.

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Kids in the US are also dying from car accidents, birth defects, respiratory infections, and drowning, but our kids have different risks than those in far flung places. When you look at the list of reasons for child fatalities in the US, you'll also see things like heart disease, blood poisoning, and homicide.

Homicide?! Not a word we like to associate with children. But in 2012, homicide was the fourth highest cause of death in kids between 1 and 14. And by the time they're 10, more kids are dying of suicide than homicide.

In the rest of the world, that doesn't seem to be as much of a problem. What IS a problem is measles, which is extra scary to see on the list, especially in light of the recent outbreaks. Important to note: The US has seen a record number of cases in the past two years ... and that's after the disease was supposedly eliminated from country in 2000.

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Globally, measles killed 82,100 children under the age of 5 in 2013. That's a lot of kids, and it's not even the biggest killer on the list.

What are you most surprised to see on the list?


Image via NatUlrich/shutterstock


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