FRIDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Increasing levels of
education among women worldwide helped save the lives of millions
of children a year, a new study shows.
Between 1970 and 2009, the average number of years of education
among women aged 25 and older more than doubled. The increase was
more than triple for women in poor countries.
During that same period, deaths among children under age 5
dropped from 16 million to 7.8 million a year. About 51 percent of
that drop in children's deaths can be attributed to increased
levels of education among women of childbearing age, according to
That means that 4.2 million fewer children died in 2009 thanks
to improved education for women, said Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou, of the
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of
Washington, Seattle, and colleagues.
The study appears this week in a special issue of
"We know that direct health interventions, such as immunizations, preventive care, and hygiene classes, are crucial to improving health worldwide. What this study shows is that by focusing on education as well, we can increase the impact that we are having on health," Gakidou said in a journal news release.
The analysis of data from hundreds of countries showed that the
global mean number of years of education a person aged 25 and older
had received increased from 4.7 years to 8.3 years for men and from
3.5 years to 7.1 years for women. For women of childbearing age (15
to 44 years) in developing countries, the years of schooling
increased from 2.2 years to 7.2 years.
The World Health Organization has more about