The Effects of Socio-Behavioral and Environmental Factors on Infant Mortality: A Review of the Literature
Infant mortality is a global problem which the Millennium Development Goals has
aimed to reduce by two-third by the year 2015. Several studies have linked
social, behavioral and environmental factors to increased infant mortality
rates in the past. The objective of this study was to review the existing
literature on the effects of socio-behavioral and environmental factors
affecting infant mortality.
A search of the literature was carried out. The search was conducted using web
browsers like Google scholar, Pub Med, Medline and sociological abstracts. The
articles were chosen when they were found to be relevant and were reviewed
accordingly. Initially, the search was limited to recent articles not earlier
than year 2000. But, when enough materials were not found, the search was
extended to older articles because they were found to be highly relevant for
review revealed that social factors such as poverty, household income, mother’s
economic status, nature of care for infants, maternal age, breastfeeding, birth
orders, birth intervals, place of delivery, income inequality, social policies,
health scheme, mother’s education and postnatal care were found to affect
infant mortality. Similarly, environmental factors such as poor residential
conditions, nature of water supply, particulate matter air pollution, poor
sanitation, heavy metal poisoning and household environmental characteristics
were found in the literature to be linked to infant mortality. Behaviors of
pregnant women like cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, sedentary lifestyle,
weight gain, utilization of prenatal care facilities and exercises were found
to be closely related to infant mortality.
It was concluded that many social, environmental and behavioral factors exist
in the literature which were found to affect infant mortality. The knowledge of
these factors should be utilized by both governmental and non-governmental
organizations in the world to swing into action of arresting and preventing the
menace of increasing infant mortality especially in the underdeveloped and
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