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Charity in plea over child deaths

More than 20,000 children will die from preventable diseases today as the global population reaches seven billion, according to a new report.

Research from Save the Children found that saving these lives would actually reduce population growth rather than add to it.

Figures show that tackling high death rates consistently leads to lower fertility rates, smaller families and the stabilisation of national populations.

According to the charity, a mother living in Chad will give birth to an average of six children in her lifetime. The same was true of Botswana in 1982 until investment in healthcare nearly halved the child mortality rate in the past 10 years, reducing the number of births to just three.

Brendan Cox, Save the Children's director of policy and advocacy, said: "We know there is a real and urgent need to tackle the world population problem before it's too late.

"It may seem illogical that saving children's lives is the best way of stabilising the global population, but the evidence is overwhelming.

"In the poorest countries, where parents are often petrified that their children will die and leave them to fend for themselves, it's understandable that they would choose to have larger families.

"We must help to give them another choice. As we bring child mortality down, parents will feel more confident that most of their children will survive and have smaller families as a result."

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