A rapid epidemiological transition in developing countries in Southeast Asia has been accompanied by major shifts in the health status of children and adolescents. In this article, mortality estimates in Malaysian children and adolescents from 1990 to 2013 are used to illustrate these changes.
All-cause and cause-specific mortality estimates were obtained from the 2013 Global Burden of Disease Study. Data were extracted from 1990 to 2013 for the developmental age range from 1 to 24 years, for both sexes. Trends in all-cause and cause-specific mortality for the major epidemiological causes were estimated.
From 1990 to 2013, all-cause mortality decreased in all age groups. Reduction of all-cause mortality was greatest in 1- to 4-year-olds (2.4% per year reduction) and least in 20- to 24-year-olds (.9% per year reduction). Accordingly, in 2013, all-cause mortality was highest in 20- to 24-year-old males (129 per 100,000 per year). In 1990, the principal cause of death for 1- to 9-year boys and girls was vaccine preventable diseases. By 2013, neoplasms had become the major cause of death in 1-9 year olds of both sexes. The major cause of death in 10- to 24-year-old females was typhoid in 1990 and neoplasms in 2013, whereas the major cause of death in 10- to 24-year-old males remained road traffic injuries.
The reduction in mortality across the epidemiological transition in Malaysia has been much less pronounced for adolescents than younger children. The contribution of injuries and noncommunicable diseases to adolescent mortality suggests where public health strategies should focus.
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