Maternal Mortality and the Consequences on Infant and Child Survival in Rural Haiti


Objective: To determine the odds of death of children when a woman of reproductive age dies from maternal or non maternal causes in rural Haiti.

Methods: Deaths among reproductive aged women between 1997 and 1999 in and around Jeremie, Haiti were classified as maternal or non maternal and matched to female, non-deceasesd controls based on village, age, and parity. Information regarding the health and survival of all of the offspring under 12 years old of the identified women was extracted from the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF) Health Information System (HIS). Additional demographic information was obtained through interviews with the mothers for controls and with family members for cases. Two analyses on child death were conducted; 1) the odds of death for each individual child after a mother’s death and 2) the odds of one of the children in a family dying after the mother’s death.

Findings: If a family experiences a maternal death, that family has a 55.0% increased odds of experiencing the loss of a child less than 12, whereas when a non maternal death occurs, no increased odds exists. When children of cases were compared to children of controls, mean weight z-scores were the same for the periods corresponding to before and after the maternal deaths. After a maternal death, dosage of BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) TB (tuberculosis) immunization for the surviving child is significantly lower, as are dosage of measles immunization and the first dose of vitamin A.

Conclusions: This study shows that a maternal death significantly effects the survival of children in a family in a greater way than a non maternal death.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF) for allowing us to partner with them. The authors would also like to acknowledge Ken Guire at Center for Statistical Consultation and Research (CSCAR), University of Michigan and Divya Patel at Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan Medical School for statistical guidance. The authors also acknowledge Zaneta Chang who performed the initial studies that identified and confirmed maternal mortalities in HHF database.

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Correspondence to Frank W. J. Anderson.

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Anderson, F.W.J., Morton, S.U., Naik, S. et al. Maternal Mortality and the Consequences on Infant and Child Survival in Rural Haiti. Matern Child Health J 11, 395–401 (2007) doi:10.1007/s10995-006-0173-0

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  • Maternal mortality
  • Child survival
  • Safe motherhood