At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What are the Primary Causes of Neonatal Death?

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg

There are several common factors that are often contribute to neonatal death. When a baby is born prematurely, there are often complications involved which can lead to infant death within the first 28 days. Congenital defects can also keep a newborn from living long after birth. Some infants born in areas where adequate medical care is not available may be likely to die from infections. There are also complications that can occur while the baby is still in the uterus or during labor that can lead to neonatal death.

Premature babies often suffer from a variety of problems which can cause neonatal death. Often born with underdeveloped lungs, they can easily develop respiratory distress syndrome. They can suffer from potentially severe bleeding in their brains, known as intraventricular hemorrhage. Necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe inflammation of the bowels, can sometimes cause significant damage which can be potentially fatal. They also have immature immune systems and therefore are more susceptible to severe, dangerous infections.

Disease is a common cause of neonatal death.
Disease is a common cause of neonatal death.

Another frequent cause of neonatal death is birth defects. Some infants are born with defective hearts or lungs, which are unable to sustain their lives. Some chromosomal abnormalities can lead to defects so severe that the baby can only survive briefly outside of the womb. Problems with the brain or central nervous system may also be to blame; one particularly severe form, anencephaly, causes most of the skull and brain to be missing, leading to death at or shortly after birth.

Disease is another common cause of neonatal death, particularly in parts of the world where newborns do not have access to adequate medical care. Infections which cause diarrhea can frequently lead to severe dehydration, which can be deadly for a new baby. In some areas, pneumonia is a common problem which leads to neonatal death. Malaria may also be a problem in areas where the disease is prevalent.

There are many issues that can arise before or during a child's birth which commonly contribute to neonatal death. Mothers who suffer from complications while they are pregnant, such as preeclampsia, tend to have newborns at risk for death. There can be complications that arise from issues with the placenta, umbilical cord, or bag of waters which affect the newborn. Problems can occur when the baby does not get enough oxygen, either prior to birth or during labor, leading to asphyxiation.

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Disease is a common cause of neonatal death.
      By: Sabryna Washington
      Disease is a common cause of neonatal death.