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The Association of Maternal Age with Infant Mortality, Child Anthropometric Failure, Diarrhoea, and Anaemia for First Births: Evidence from 55 Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Jocelyn Finlay (), Emre Özaltin () and David Canning ()
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Jocelyn Finlay: Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies
Emre Özaltin: Harvard School of Public Health

PGDA Working Papers from Program on the Global Demography of Aging

Abstract: Objective- To examine the association between maternal age at first birth and infant mortality, stunting, underweight,wasting, diarrhoea and anaemia of children in low- middle-income countries. Design- Cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative household samples. A modified Poisson regression model is used to estimate unadjusted and adjusted relative risk ratios.Setting- Low- and middle-income countries Population- First births to women aged 12-35 where this birth occurred 12-60 months prior to the interview. The sample for analysing infant mortality is comprised of 176,583 children in 55 low- and middle-income countries across 118 Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 1990 and 2008. Main Outcome Measures- In children under 12 months: infant mortality. In children under 5 years: stunting,underweight, wasting, diarrhoea and anaemia. Results- The investigation reveals two salient findings. First, in the sample of women who had their first birth between the ages of 12 and 35, the risk of poor child health outcome is lowest for women who have their first birth between the ages of 27-29. Secondly, the results indicate that both biological and social mechanisms play a role in explaining why children of young mothers have poorer outcomes. Conclusions- First borns of adolescent mothers are the most vulnerable to infant mortality and poor child health outcomes. Additionally, first time mothers up to the age of 27 have higher risk of having a child who suffers from stunting, diarrhoea and moderate or strong anaemia.Maternal and child health programs should take account of this increased risk even for mothers in their early twenties. Increasing age as first birth in developing countries may have large benefits in terms of child health.

Keywords: maternal age; infant mortality; diarrhoea; anaemia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012-01
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