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Birth Order, Stage of Infancy and Infant Mortality in India
Authors: Mishra SK, Ram B, Singh A, and Yadav A
Source: Journal of Biosocial Science, page 1-22; doi: 10.1017/S0021932017000487
Topic(s): Child health
Infant mortality
Country: Asia
Published: OCT 2017
Abstract: Using data from India's National Family Health Survey, 2005-06 (NFHS-3), this article examines the patterns of relationship between birth order and infant mortality. The analysis controls for a number of variables, including mother's characteristics such as age at the time of survey, current place of residence (urban/rural), years of schooling, religion, caste, and child's sex and birth weight. A modest J-shaped relationship between birth order of children and their risk of dying in the neonatal period is found, suggesting that although both first- and last-born children are at a significantly greater risk of dying compared with those in the middle, last-borns (i.e. fourth and higher order births) are at the worst risk. However, in the post-neonatal period first-borns are not as vulnerable, but the risk increases steadily with the addition of successive births and last-borns are at much greater risk, even worse than those in the neonatal period. Although the strength of relationship between birth order and mortality is attenuated after the potential confounders are taken into account, the relationship between the two variables remains curvilinear in the neonatal period and direct in the post-neonatal period. There are marked differences in these patterns by the child's sex. While female children are less prone to the risk of dying in the neonatal period in comparison with male children, the converse is true in the post-neonatal period. Female children not only run higher risks of dying in the post-neonatal period, but also become progressively more vulnerable with an increase in birth order..