More boys receive hospital care for chest infections than girls in South Asia, says a new global study.

This gender disparity is also visible across the developing world, it notes.

In some areas in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, up to four times as many boys under five receive hospital care for chest infections compared to girls.

The data for India came from previous studies conducted from different areas.

Around 12 million children under the age of five are hospitalised with infections such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis worldwide each year, says the study.

The study found that a substantial number of children under five who became critically ill from chest infections were not treated in hospitals. Around 38 per cent of severe cases did not reach hospitals.

Researchers also found that an estimated 2,65,000 children under five suffering from chest infections die in hospitals worldwide each year.

Almost all of these deaths – 99 per cent – take place in the developing world. About eight out of 10 children who die from chest infections do so outside of hospital care.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, who carried out the study based on 2010 data, say that the findings indicate the severity of the problem in the developing nations.

Harish Nair, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Population Health Sciences, who led the study, said: “Pneumonia has an enormous impact upon the lives of young children across the world. This study shows that much more could be done to reduce infection and save lives, such as by improving access to hospitals in the developing world, or by ensuring that both boys and girls receive similar health care.”