Despite advancements in parental education and child development, the infant mortality rate in some countries (including this one) needs our attention. There are so many challenges facing new parents, and each of those challenges can have a detrimental affect on a baby's welfare and development in the first year of life. Maternal health, both before and during pregnancy, can be a major contributing factor to higher infant mortality rates. A new study out of Denmark suggests that infant mortality rates are higher in children born to women with short-term or no education. It really highlights the link between socio-economic factors and maternal health, and shows how that link can affect outcomes for children.
The study in question comes out of Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital and was led by Yongfu Yu and Jiong Li. The researchers used data from a national population study of 1.99 million children born in Denmark between the years 1981 and 2015. In Denmark, approximately 4 out of every 1,000 newborn babies dies before they reach their first birthday.
The study found that women with short-term education (less than nine years of primary and secondary education) or no education had an increased risk of their child dying within the first year of life. In 55-60% of those cases, the baby was born premature or suffered from low fetal weight at birth.
Premature birth and low fetal birth weight can occur when women don't have access to proper prenatal care. In these cases, the lack of education and resources and other socio-economic factors could have contributed to the challenges faced by women both before and during pregnancy. While it's important to look into all reasons for an increased mortality rate, it's particularly important to consider and research how the health of social and financially disadvantaged women can increase the risk of premature birth and low birth weight, in turn increasing the risk of the child dying in their first year of life.
Even in societies like Denmark which have numerous resources available, some women still fall through the cracks. Hopefully, this study will help the focus turn to those vulnerable women and the specific challenges they face.