Infant mortality in an urban slum
Infant and child mortality are important indicators of the level of development of a society, but are usually collected by governmental agencies on a region wide scale, with little local stratification. In order to formulate appropriate local policies for intervention, it is important to know the patterns of morbidity and mortality in children in the local setting.
This retrospective study collected and analyzed data on infant mortality for the period 1995 to 2003 in an urban slum area in Vellore, southern India from government health records maintained at the urban health clinic.
The infant mortality rate over this period was 37.9 per 1000 live births. Over half (54.3%) of the deaths occurred in the neonatal period. Neonatal deaths were mainly due to perinatal asphyxia (31.9%), pre-maturity (16.8%) and aspiration pneumonia or acute respiratory distress (16.8%), while infant deaths occurring after the first mth of life were mainly due to diarrheal disease (43%) and respiratory infections (21%).
These results emphasize the need to improved antenatal and perinatal care to improve survival in the neonatal period. The strikingly high death rate due to diarrheal illness highlights the requirements for better sanitation and water quality.
Key wordsInfant mortality Gastroenteritis India
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