GENEVA — Global death rates among newborns under one month old are dropping, a study by the World Health Organization showed Tuesday.

"Newborn deaths decreased from 4.6 million in 1990 to 3.3 million in 2009," the UN health agency said in a statement.

However, developing nations are still reporting a disproportionately high level of child deaths, according to the study by the WHO, Save the Children and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and published in the journal PLoS Medicine.

The research found that 99 percent of all newborn deaths occur in developing countries, with India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo accounting for half of them.

"India alone has more than 900,000 newborn deaths per year, nearly 28 percent of the global total," the WHO said.

Africa saw the slowest decline in newborn deaths, at a rate of just one percent per year, it said.

"This study shows in stark terms that where babies are born dramatically influences their chances of survival," added Joy Lawn of Save the Children.

"Millions of babies should not be dying when there are proven, cost-effective interventions to prevent the leading causes of newborn death," she added.

Newborn fatalities now account for 41 percent of all child deaths before the age of five, up from 37 percent in 1990.