Kate Kerber 7 billionth baby

Celebrating 7 billion: Happy Birthday Danica!

According to this calculator, I was the 4,554,726,423 billionth person to be born. This week, the UN is marking celebrations for the 7 billionth baby. Around 500,000 babies will share their birth day with Danica May Camacho, the Philippine baby girl UN officials have symbolically honoured as number 7 billion.

Danica Camacho – the world’s 7 billionth resident – with her mother Camille as they are wheeled out of the delivery room. Photo: AP

Most of those babies – 99% –will not be born in a high income country with access to leading care. One third of the babies born today will not be born into the arms of someone who has the skills needed to safely deliver and take action for the mother and baby if something goes wrong. Many of these mothers will give birth with no one around at all.

In countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 6,000 babies born today will not survive their first 28 days, and over 17 thousand will not live past their 5th birthday. For around fifteen percent of the babies born today, this was not supposed to be their birth day. They have come too early and too small and will likely need extra care in order to survive. This care can be made available even in the poorest settings.

With the announcement of a global population of 7 billion, there is a lot of talk about the increasing strain on the planet and the challenges of overcrowding. Some may say that efforts to save the lives of the babies born today and improve conditions for their families will only accelerate population growth. But in fact, the exact opposite is the case.

Linked with support for family planning and women’s empowerment, a reduction in newborn and child mortality will lead to lower rates of fertility and population growth. Where mothers and their partners are confident that their children will live, and where they have the capacity to control the timing and spacing of their pregnancies, they choose to have smaller families. Where women are supported during pregnancy and childbirth with access to care that targets the main causes of death and the most vulnerable mothers and newborn babies, they are empowered to raise healthy families.

Afghanistan – Photo: Save the Children

Increasing women’s control over their fertility and ensuring their babies survive is an important part of poor families being able to overcome poverty. Up to half of Asia’s economic growth between 1965 and 1990 is attributable to demographic and health improvements, including reductions in newborn and child mortality, better access to reproductive health services, and reductions in fertility rates.

That’s something to celebrate. Happy birthday Danica!

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