New Year, Same Challenge for China and Beyond


With the end of January marking Chinese New Year, billions celebrated the year of the rooster according to the Chinese Zodiac. Throughout 2017, over 17 million babies will be born in China and, according to the legend of the rooster, are predicted to be talkative, open, honest, and loyal characters. But very sadly, we may not get the chance to benefit from the lives of over 1 million of these little roosters.

According to the World Health Organisation, China sits as the 2nd country with the most preterm births in the world, while five more Asian countries are found in the top ten.

  1. India: 3 519 100
  2. China: 1 172 300
  3. Nigeria: 773 600
  4. Pakistan: 748 100
  5. Indonesia: 675 700
  6. The United States of America: 517 400
  7. Bangladesh: 424 100
  8. The Philippines: 348 900
  9. The Democratic Republic of the Congo: 341 400
  10. Brazil: 279 300
The scale of premature births in Asia is some of the worst in the world.

Besides Africa, Asia suffers from the highest burden of preterm birth in the world with the continent accounting for almost half the planet’s premature babies. However, there are significant discrepancies from country to country, particularly from eastern to southern Asia. Japan, considered one of Asia’s richest countries, boasts one of the lowest prematurity rates at just 5.9%. Conversely Pakistan, in southern Asia, has a rate of 15.8%, one of the world’s highest rates.

Meanwhile, India, with its giant populace, accounts for the greatest number of preterm births in the world. Per WHO’s 2010 statistics, out of India’s 27 million babies born every year, 3.5 million are born too soon and 361,600 die before they turn 5 years old, as a direct result of preterm complications. More recently China, despite its larger population, has managed to reduce its low birthweight thanks to their fast and sustained economic development in recent decades.

But regardless of these healthier results, China still has a long way to go to reduce infant prematurity and mortality. There is little effort to understand the causes of preterm birth in the country and throughout the continent, with few in-depth studies taking place. At Borne, we know that the causes of preterm birth are not universal and are likely to be effected by geography, economy and culture, as well as biology. So despite current research taking place around the world, nothing will really change unless we conduct more co-ordinated medical research on a global scale and understand why women in all regions of the world go into labour early.

Only when this happens will we be able to create a safer environment for all children to be born at full-term and give us the chance to know all of these little roosters.