September 9 – Rock A Bye Baby

Today’s factismal: Traditionally, Chinese babies were not named until they were a month old.

The naming of babies is a serious business; it isn’t one of your everyday games. That’s because in many traditional societies, babies aren’t named right after they are born. Instead, the new parents anxiously wait anywhere from a week to a month to a year before giving the child a name. But why wait? Simply put, until very recently, many children didn’t live past their first month. As a result, new parents in Egypt would wait a week before having a naming ceremony and parents in China would wait a month.  And this problem wasn’t limited to Third World Countries. Until 1964, the most common age of death in England and Wales was zero; most deaths happened to newborns. One in six children would die within their first year in two of the most developed countries in the world. So what changed?

Most children today make it past their first birthday (My camera)

Most children today make it past their first birthday
(My camera)

Simply put, we got better. We developed vaccines that prevented many illnesses and improved conditions in the hospital so that fewer children (and mothers!) died from childbirth and created new machines to help newborns survive. As a result, infant mortality has dropped to one out of every 252 newborns in a developed country; in some countries, more than 997 out of every 1,000 newborns will survive their first year!  And those improvements have made their way to the developing world as well. In 1990, infants born in sub-Saharan Africa had a one in nine chance of dying. About half of them would die within a month of being born. Today, an infant stands a one in twelve chance of dying. As a result, where we used to lose 12.6 million children underr the age of five every year, today that number is down to six million, or about 16,500 each day.

Poor sanitaion and lack of medicine kill most children (My camera)

Poor sanitaion and lack of medicine kill most children
(My camera)

Obviously, that is still too many children to have die – especially since most of them die from preventable causes. The most common cause of death is malnutrition, followed by diseases such as cholera and malaria. So wat can we do? First, celebrate the progress that we’ve made. Things are getting better. And then work to make sure that we continue to progress. The best way to do that is to contribute to a charity that provides needed healthcare for children and mothers, such as UNICEF. To learn more, ehad over to their website:


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