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70 infants die every month in Madurai district

Shastry V. Mallady
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“45 per cent of deaths happen within seven days of birth”

Madurai district has a high infant mortality rate, with nearly 70 infant deaths recorded every month on an average.

From April to November 2012, 528 infants died in the district. Of these, 111 deaths were reported in the corporation area alone. Infant death particulars gathered from the Health Department show that the district is losing over 700 infants almost every year since 2008-09. Interestingly, Melur municipality had no infant deaths in the last eight months while Tirumangalam municipality reported only two deaths during the period.

“We are taking all the necessary steps to bring down the infant mortality rate in the district. Round-the-clock medical attention for sick newborns and improving neonatal care are our top priorities,” S. Senthilkumar, Deputy Director of Health Services, told The Hindu , on Friday.

Out of the total 528 infant deaths recorded from April to November 2012, the number of deaths in rural areas was 415 as per data collected from 51 Primary Health Centres in the district. Madurai Corporation recorded 111 deaths while the remaining two deaths occurred in May last year in Tirumangalam municipality.

Health Department officials said that 45 per cent of infants died within seven days of birth. Reasons cited in the medical records were birth asphyxia, sepsis, pneumonia, congenital anomaly, heart disease, low birth weight and milk asphyxiation. “The first seven days are crucial for the baby and the maximum number of deaths happen during this time. The Collector is regularly doing infant death audit,” a senior official said.

Infant deaths reached 74 in October 2012. The month-wise break-up of infant mortality deaths recorded in the last eight months is as follows:

April (56), May (46), June (60), July (36), August (49), September (42), October (74) and November (52). The figures for December are yet to be collected from the PHCs, officials said. The pockets where infant mortality is high include Karungalagudi, Melakkal, N. P. Kottai, Sedapatti, T. Pudupatti, Alanganallur, T. Kallupatti, Valayankulam, Chekkanoorani, Therkutheru, Kulamangalam and Tirupparankundram.

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