New data show that encouraging Chinese women to give birth in the hospital has contributed to a sharp drop in infant deaths over a 12-year period.
A study released Friday in The Lancet, a British medical journal, says that newborn deaths fell 62 percent between 1996 and 2008 based on analysis of 1.5 million births.
The study, co-authored by researchers from Peking University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said more babies survived mainly because women were increasingly giving birth in hospitals or clinics.
"In 1988, less than half of all women in China gave birth in hospital, but only 20 years later, hospital births have become almost universal," it said.
"Where you give birth really matters," said one of the authors, Carine Ronsmans, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
There were 24.7 deaths of newborns in China per 1,000 live births in 1996 but by 2008 that figure had fallen to 9.3 per 1,000, it said.