New Delhi - Five more newborn babies have died in a state-run hospital with a history of infant deaths in eastern India, bringing the death toll to 12 in a 48-hour period, a hospital official said on Sunday.
All 12 infants, aged 1 month or younger, were underweight and suffered from malnutrition, Malda Medical College and Hospital Vice Principal MA Rashid told dpa, adding that some newborns had suffered from respiratory problems. Rashid said the hospital, located about 300 kilometers north of West Bengal capital Kolkata, accepted several of the newborns as transfers from smaller hospitals in the region.
The hospital receives more critical case transfers than other hospitals because of its large size and role as a medical training facility, leading it to report more infant deaths, he added.
The hospital saw 23 newborns die of suspected encephalitis last month and more than 60 die in 2011. India's infant mortality rate in 2012 - 44 deaths for every 1 000 deaths - was 25% higher than the world average of 35 that year, according to World Bank data.
More than 1.4 million children are estimated to die in India every year before reaching their fifth birthday.