We measure the concentration of infant deaths in families in the historical populations of Krummhörn, Germany and Québec, Canada in order to investigate whether mothers in recomposed families differ regarding their maternal quality. In particular, we are interested in whether stepmothers in Krummhörn are responsible for a diminution in the survival of their stepchildren because they poorly substitute maternal child care or because they disadvantage their stepchildren. The concentrations of infant deaths within the two populations are measured with Lorenz curves and Gini coefficients, and are compared with expected concentrations given by draws from a binomial distribution. Alleged differences between actual and calculated concentrations represent "causal" death clustering. In the Krummhörn region there is little evidence for "causal" death clustering that would indicate variations regarding their maternal quality, whereas Québec mothers exhibit a distinctively higher concentration of infant deaths.
This paper examines to which extent seasonal and climatic conditions might affect the reliability of the Bourgeois-Pichat's method. Other scholars have already argued on this issue, but although climate has often been claimed to explain part of the differentials in mortality figures among Italian regions, to date its impact has not actually been recognized and quantitatively evaluated. To test such hypothesis data at the regional level from late 19th-century Italy have been analyzed. Our analysis of the biometric components revealed a strong bias in the estimates of the endogenous and exogenous components in the first month of life. Variations in infant mortality among Italian regions correlated with variations in the endogenous levels rather than in the exogenous levels of infant (neonatal) mortality, as it was expected owing to the infective nature of the diseases climate might induce. Specifically, Northern and colder regions featured high figures for both neonatal mortality and the endogenous component, while the opposite scheme applied to the Southern, more temperate regions. Finally, the reasons for such misleading results were investigated. It emerged that the model's assumption of a constant and invariant proportion of neonatal exogenous deaths to the total amount of exogenous deaths was not matched by the Italian data. This situation caused the excess neonatal exogenous mortality, especially that induced by cold climate in Northern regions, to be wrongly counted in the endogenous component.
BACKGROUND: This study reviews the historical, anthropological and biomedical literature on childbirth among Canadian Inuit resident in the Canadian Arctic. The modern period is characterised by increased tension as southern intervention replaced traditional birthing with a biomedical model and evacuation to metropolitan hospitals for birth. Inuit concern over the erosion of traditional culture has confronted biomedical concern over perinatal outcomes. Recently, community birthing centres have been established in Nunavik and Nunavut in order to integrate traditional birthing techniques with biomedical support. OBJECTIVES: To review the literature on Inuit childbirth in order to suggest avenues for future research. STUDY DESIGN: Material for this review was gathered through combining library searches, database searches in ANTHROPOLOGYPlus, MEDLINE, CINAHL and Science-Direct, and a bibliographic search through the results. RESULTS: Epidemiological studies of Inuit childbirth are outdated, inconclusive, or inseparable from non-Inuit data. Anthropological studies indicate that evacuation for childbirth has deleterious social and cultural effects and that there is considerable support for traditional communal birthing in combination with biomedical techniques and technology. CONCLUSIONS: Investigation of alternative solutions to maintaining acceptable perinatal outcomes among the Inuit seems desirable. Epidemiological and comparative qualitative studies of perinatal outcomes across the Arctic are needed to reconcile the cultural desirability of communal birthing with claims of its medical feasibility.
Many studies have shown that health conditions experienced in childhood play an important role on an individual's adult mortality. Recent research suggests that past reductions in early life exposure to infectious diseases have been a major contributor to the historical decline in old-age mortality. Drawing on French-Canadian data from cohorts born in the 17th and 18th centuries, we test whether a progressive deterioration in early life conditions (as revealed by an increasing infant mortality rate) translates into a decrease in survival prospects in late life. We use traditional demographic measures such as the age-specific probability of death, and a series of proportional hazard models to control for familial and environmental conditions. Results point toward little evidence of any early life effects. The trend of increasing infant mortality does not correlate with a general increase of mortality in older ages within the same cohorts. Period changes affecting survival at older ages (war, epidemics) as well as demographic and biological characteristics shared within families have a much larger role in old-age mortality than early life characteristics shared within the same cohorts.
AIMS: Educational differences in infant mortality, birth weight, and birth weight-specific infant mortality in Sweden were analysed. The "low birth weight paradox", where low birth weight infants have a lower mortality risk if born to women of lower rather than higher social strata, was addressed. METHODS: The study includes about a million single births 1973-90 to women born 1946-60. There were 6,544 infant deaths and 35,334 low birth weight infants. Analysis conducted on six-year time periods was restricted to 652,859 births to women aged 25-32 at the time of delivery. Odds ratios and 95% CI were estimated by logistic regression. Birth weight-specific infant mortality rates were calculated by education. RESULTS: Infants of women with low/low intermediate education had significantly higher odds ratios than those of highly educated women of being of low birth weight or of dying. If one compares only the infants of women with low and high education, these differences were accentuated over time. The low birth weight paradox appears over time. CONCLUSION: The widening differences in infant mortality and low birth weight over time may be caused by the decrease in women with low education, signifying increased selection and growing social disadvantage in this group. The emergence of the low birth weight paradox suggests that the distribution of causes of low birth weight differs between educational groups, and further that these causes are differently related to infant mortality. To disentangle these two groups of causes and their effects on infant mortality seems highly relevant.
We analyze causal effects of conditions early in life on the individual mortality rate later in life. Conditions early in life are captured by transitory features of the macro-environment around birth, notably the state of the business cycle around birth, but also food price deviations, weather indicators, and demographic indicators. We argue that these features can only affect high-age mortality by way of the individual early-life conditions. Moreover, they are exogenous from the individual point of view, which is a methodological advantage compared to the use of unique characteristics of the newborn individual or his or her family or household as early-life indicators. We collected national annual time-series data on the above-mentioned indicators, and we combine these to the individual data records from the Danish Twin Registry covering births in 1873-1906. The empirical analyses (mostly based on the estimation of duration models) indicate a significant negative causal effect of economic conditions early in life on individual mortality rates at higher ages. If the national economic performance in the year of birth exceeds its trend value (i.e., if the business cycle is favorable) then the mortality rate later in life is lower. The implied effect on the median lifetime of those who survive until age 35 is about 10 months. A systematic empirical exploration of all macro-indicators reveals that economic conditions in the first years after birth also affect mortality rates later in life.