Infant Mortality - Causes of Infant Mortality - Medical


Low birth weight makes up sixty to eighty percent of the infant mortality rate in developing countries. The New England Journal of Medicine stated that “The lowest mortality rates occur among infants weighing 3000 to 3500 g. For infants born weighing 2500 g or less, the mortality rate rapidly increases with decreasing weight, and most of the infants weighing 1000 g or less die. As compared with normal-birth-weight infants, those with low weight at birth are almost 40 times more likely to die in the neonatal period; for infants with very low weight at birth the relative risk of neonatal death is almost 200 times greater.” Infant mortality due to low birth weight is usually a direct cause stemming from other medical complications such as preterm birth, poor maternal nutritional status, lack of prenatal care, maternal sickness during pregnancy, and an unhygienic home environments. Along with birth weight, period of gestation makes up the two most important predictors of and infant's chances of survival and their overall health.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine “in the past two decades, the infant mortality rate (deaths under one year of age per thousand live births) in the United States has declined sharply.” Low birth weights from African American mothers remain twice as high as that of white women. LBW may be the leading cause of infant deaths, and it is greatly preventable. Although it is preventable, the solutions may not be the easiest but effective programs to help prevent LBW are a combustion of health care, education, environment, mental modification and public policy, influencing a culture supporting lifestyle. Preterm deliveries is the second highest cause of infant mortality worldwide. Even though America excels past many other countries in the care and saving of premature infants, the percentage of American woman who deliver prematurely is comparable to those in developing countries. Reasons for this include teenage pregnancy, increase in pregnant mothers over the age of thirty five, increase in the use of in-vitro fertilization which increases the risk of multiple births, obesity and diabetes. Also, woman who do not have access to health care are less likely to visit a doctor, therefore increasing their risk of delivering prematurely.

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a significant cause of thousands of infant deaths per year. According to the Mayo Clinic SIDS is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby. Although the direct cause of SIDS remains unknown, many doctors believe that there are several factors that put babies at an increased risk of SIDS. Some of these factors include babies sleeping on their stomach, exposure to cigarette smoke in the womb or after birth, sleeping in bed with parents, premature birth, being a twin or triplet, being born to a teen mother, and also living in poverty settings. Although the cause is unknown and cant be unexplained, doctors have came to the conclusion that SIDS is most likely to occur between 2 and 4 months and most deaths occur in the winter time. Some precautions that parents may take include making sure baby sleeps on its back, put them to bed in a crib, allow them to sleep in the same room but not the same bed, make sure room temperature isn't too hot, and breastfeed if possible because it reduces upper respiratory infections that influence SIDS. The Mayo Clinic also offers some ways to prevent SIDS"“perhaps the most important way to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome is to place your baby on his or her back to sleep, on a firm crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Nothing else should go in the crib with your baby — no blanket, pillow, bumper pads or toys.”

Malnutrition frequently accompanies these diseases, and is a primary factor contributing to the complications of both diarrhea and pneumonia, although the causal links and mechanisms remain unclear. Other factors than the nutritional status of infants and children influence the incidence of diarrhea, including socioeconomic status, disruption of traditional lifestyles, accessibility to clean water and sanitation facilities, age and their breast-feeding status.

Protein energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency are two reasons for stunted growth for children under five years old in the least developed countries. Malnutrition leads to diarrhea and dehydration, and ultimately death. Millions of women in developing countries are stunted due to a history of childhood malnutrition. Women’s bodies are thus underdeveloped, and chances of withstanding giving birth decreases. Due to underdeveloped bodies, the probability of having an obstructed pregnancy increases. Protein-energy deficiency results in low-quality breast milk that is not as caloric and nutritious.

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to stunting, blindness, and increased mortality due to the lack of nutrients in the body. Two hundred and fifty million infants are affected by Vitamin A deficiency. Out of the women in developing countries, forty percent have iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia increases maternal and infant mortality rates, chances of stillbirth, cases of low birth weight babies, premature delivery, and probability of fetal brain damage. One way to prevent Vitamin A Deficiency from occurring is to educate the mother on the many benefits of breastfeeding. Breast milk is a natural producer of Vitamin A, therefore supplying the infant with sufficient amounts of Vitamin A while at breastfeeding age.

Breastfeeding is a taboo in certain cultures and is not promoted immediately after birth. Breastfeeding provides beneficial nutrients and antibodies to the baby. Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has the perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat—everything your infant needs to grow. Without breast milk, infants are not getting enough antibodies needed to fight on infectious diseases.

Seven out of ten childhood deaths are due to infectious diseases- acute respiratory infection, diarrhea, measles, and malaria. Acute respiratory infection such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and broncholitis account for thirty percent of childhood deaths. Ninety-five percent of pneumonia cases occur in the developing world. Diarrhea, is the second largest cause of childhood mortality in the world, while malaria causes eleven percent of childhood deaths. Measles is the fifth largest cause of childhood mortality. Folic acid for mothers is one way to combat iron deficiency. A few public health measures used to lower levels of iron deficiency anemia include iodize salt or drinking water, and include vitamin A and multivitamin supplements into a mother’s diet. A deficiency of this vitamin causes certain types of anemia (low red blood cell count).

Read more about this topic:  Infant Mortality, Causes of Infant Mortality

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