Aim: The aim was to evaluate the trends in childhood mortality in Finland from 1969 to 2004. We especially wanted to find out whether the decline in mortality is continuous and whether there are still deaths that could be prevented.
Methods: We analyzed mortality data obtained from the official cause of death statistics in Finland from 1969 to 2004. Annual mortality rates were calculated in proportion to those at risk of dying. Comparison of cause specific mortality rates was conducted for neonatal group and children aged 1 month to 15 years.
Results: Annual neonatal mortality declined from 11.13 per thousand in 1969 to 2.46 per thousand in 2004. The leading causes of death were perinatal disorders and congenital malformations. Mortality among children aged 1 month to 15 years declined from 0.67 per thousand in 1969 to 0.23 per thousand in 2004, with accidents the leading cause of death, although congenital malformations, tumours and haematological diseases, and infectious diseases were significant causes as well. There was a notable peak in total mortality in 2004, as 44 Finnish children died in the Asian tsunami in December of that year.
Conclusion: Childhood mortality in Finland has decreased significantly during recent decades. Prevention programmes should be directed towards reducing mortality from accidents by promoting traffic safety and ensuring a safer environment. Even though child mortality is very low in Finland at present, continued reductions can still be achieved.