The Effects of Socio-Behavioral and Environmental Factors on Infant Mortality: A Review of the Literature

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Authors : Ganiyu Abiodun Adedeji, Mgbe Emeka Kevin


Background: 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.

Methods: 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 the study.

Findings: This 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.

Conclusion: 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 developing countries.

Key words: Infant mortality, Social factors, Behavioral factors, Environmental factors.


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