Pneumonia, diarrhea, and sepsis are together responsible for almost one-third of all under-5 deaths.

These and other common infectious diseases are the leading causes of death among children under 5.

Causes of Death Among Children Under 5.1

All of these diseases are preventable and treatable—the technology and know-how exists. In high-income countries, rarely do babies die from them.

To achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 3 we must close this gap.

GOAL 3: end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, reducing neonatal and child mortality to 12 and 25 per 1000 live births, respectively.

Pneumonia, Diarrhea, and Sepsis are spread by hand and air in hospitals, and through water mixed with formula at home.

The spread of infections through the air and touch is a major challenge in low-resource hospitals. In many cases, the infection leads to death or disability.

Every year, 85 million babies in their first days of life receive formula or animal milk. While formula, also derived from animal milk, offers the potential to save lives when a mom is unable to nurse, it also has a dangerous downside: 14 times increased risk of death.2

Human breast milk prevents infection in a way that animal milk cannot, helping a baby’s digestive system colonize healthy bacteria, while preventing harmful pathogens from attaching to the stomach lining.3

Exclusive breastfeeding in the first months of life would save over 800,000 babies each year.4

“Nutrition is the next frontier in [infant] mortality.” – Neonatologist at public hospital in Southeastern India

Only human milk protects against infectious disease.

Preventive Interventions Estimated under-5 deaths prevented
Breastfeeding 13%
Insecticide-treated materials 7%
Complementary feeding 6%
Zinc 5%
Clean delivery 4%
Hib vaccine 4%
Water, sanitation, hygiene 3%
Antenatal steroids 3%
Newborn temperature management 2%

D-Rev is working with global partners to develop a suite of user-centric products to support mothers with lactation, and support health professionals to strengthen human milk banking and Lactation Management Centres.

D-Rev’s focus is referral hospitals in low-income regions, starting with India and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Our fieldwork indicates that 30-50% of babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) require nutritional support, ideally human milk. The reasons why mothers are unable to breastfeed range. Among those we’ve heard: physical separation from their baby, challenges nursing, and/or maternal death in childbirth.

Investing in Under 5 Nutrition is already among the most cost effective investments in low resource settings. Within Nutrition, breastfeeding projects provide the highest returns by a factor of 3, $35 per $1 spent.5

The dramatic benefits of investing in nutrition.

If this is an area you are working in or have an interest in newborn nutrition, please contact us at nutrition@d-rev.org. We are interested in hearing from you.