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Globally, each year an estimated 2.9 million babies die in their first month of life. Most of these deaths occur in developing countries such as Nepal. Between 1990 and 2011 the global neonatal mortality rate declined by 32 percent, from 32 deaths to 22 deaths per 1,000 live births. At the same time, the proportion of child deaths in the neonatal period increased and now stands at 41 percent globally. Leading causes of neonatal death are pre-term birth, severe infections, and asphyxia. Low birth weight is the leading indirect cause of neonatal mortality. The rate of neonatal mortality is known to be affected by various factors such as maternal characteristics, child and birth characteristics, socio-demographic characteristics of the household, and mothers’ and other caregivers’ health care seeking behaviors.
The 2011 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) found that over the last 15 years in Nepal, under-five mortality fell by 54 percent, from 118 deaths to 54 per 1,000 live births. Infant mortality declined by 42 percent over the same period, from 79 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1991-1995 to 46 per 1,000 in 2006-2010. By comparison, neonatal mortality decreased by 34 percent in this period, from 50 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1991-1995 to 33 per 1,000 in 2006-2010.