Levels, trends & predictors of infant & child mortality among Scheduled Tribes in rural India

Damodar Sahu et al
Indian Journal of Medical Research, 2015

Background & objectives: the level of infant and child mortality is high among Scheduled Tribesparticularly those living in rural areas. This study examines levels, trends and socio-demographic factorsassociated with infant and child mortality among scheduled tribes in rural areas.

Methods: Data from the three rounds of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) of India from 1992 to 2006 were analysed to assess the levels and trends of infant and child mortality. Univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazard model were used to understand the socio-economic and demographic factors associated with mortality during 1992–2006.

Results: Significant change was observed in infant and child mortality over the time period from 1992-2006 among Scheduled Tribes in rural areas. After controlling for other factors, birth interval, household wealth, and region were found to be significantly associated with infant and child mortality. Hazard of infant mortality was highest among births to mothers aged 30 yr or more (HR=1.3, 95% CI=1.1-1.7) as compared with births to the mother’s aged 20-29 yr. Hazard of under-five mortality was 42 per cent(95% CI=1.3-1.6) higher among four or more birth order compared with the first birth order. The risk of infant dying was higher among male children (HR = 1.2, 95% CI=1.1-1.4) than among female children while male children were at 30 per cent (HR=0.7, 95% CI=0.6-0.7) less hazard of child mortality than female children. Literate women were at 40 per cent (HR=0.6, 95% CI=0.50-0.76) less hazard of child
death than illiterate women.

Interpretation & conclusions: Mortality differentials by socio-demographic and economic factors were observed over the time period (1992-2006) among Scheduled Tribes (STs) in rural India. Findings support the need to focus on age at first birth and spacing between two births.