How Many Children Under 5 Die A Year In The U.S. Vs. Angola? : Goats and Soda A new report emphasizes significant progress in cutting the number of deaths of children before age 5. But in some parts of the world, the rate is still depressingly high.
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How Many Children Under 5 Die A Year In The U.S. Vs. Angola?

A newborn in Sierra Leone is treated after delivery by Caesarean section. The country's child mortality rate has dropped from 264 per 1,000 in 1990 to an estimated 120 this year. Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images hide caption

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Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images

A newborn in Sierra Leone is treated after delivery by Caesarean section. The country's child mortality rate has dropped from 264 per 1,000 in 1990 to an estimated 120 this year.

Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images

The oil-rich West African nation of Angola has a dubious distinction. Its child mortality rate is the world's worst: 157 kids out of every 1,000 die before their 5th birthday. By comparison the child mortality rate in the U.S. is 7 deaths per 1,000. In Europe it's between 3 and 4.

The numbers are part of a report with a mix of promising and depressing news. Things are far better now than they used to be. Back in 1990, almost 13 million children under age 5 died. Aggressive efforts to improve pediatric health in some of the poorest parts of the world have been partly responsible for bringing that number down to an estimated 6 million this year.

But geography is a killer. "A child born in a low-income country is, on average, 11 times as likely to die before the age of 5 as a child in a high-income country," according to the report.

The most significant progress on child mortality globally over the last 25 years was recorded in Asia and Latin America but some African nations made great strides. Liberia, Malawi and Rwanda all saw their child mortality rates drop by roughly 75 percent over this period. But the top pediatric killers globally remain diseases that disproportionately hit African children — malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia.

The report also notes that most of these kids pass away in their first month of life.

The good news is that overall odds of survival are improving for children in every country except three (see below).

Chart Correction Sept. 9, 2015

The chart in an earlier version of this post stated that the estimated deaths for children under age five were per 100,000 live births. That number should be per 1,000 live births. The post has been corrected.