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The Association of Maternal Age with Infant Mortality, Child Anthropometric Failure, Diarrhoea, and Anaemia for First Births: Evidence from 55 Low- and Middle-Income Countries

  • Jocelyn E. Finlay


    (Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies)

  • Emre Özaltin


    (Harvard School of Public Health)

  • David Canning


    (Harvard School of Public Health)

Objective- To examine the association between maternal age at first birth and infant mortality, stunting, underweight,wasting, diarrhoea and anaemia of children in low- middle-income countries. Design- Cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative household samples. A modified Poisson regression model is used to estimate unadjusted and adjusted relative risk ratios.Setting- Low- and middle-income countries Population- First births to women aged 12-35 where this birth occurred 12-60 months prior to the interview. The sample for analysing infant mortality is comprised of 176,583 children in 55 low- and middle-income countries across 118 Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 1990 and 2008. Main Outcome Measures- In children under 12 months: infant mortality. In children under 5 years: stunting,underweight, wasting, diarrhoea and anaemia. Results- The investigation reveals two salient findings. First, in the sample of women who had their first birth between the ages of 12 and 35, the risk of poor child health outcome is lowest for women who have their first birth between the ages of 27-29. Secondly, the results indicate that both biological and social mechanisms play a role in explaining why children of young mothers have poorer outcomes. Conclusions- First borns of adolescent mothers are the most vulnerable to infant mortality and poor child health outcomes. Additionally, first time mothers up to the age of 27 have higher risk of having a child who suffers from stunting, diarrhoea and moderate or strong anaemia.Maternal and child health programs should take account of this increased risk even for mothers in their early twenties. Increasing age as first birth in developing countries may have large benefits in terms of child health.

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Paper provided by Program on the Global Demography of Aging in its series PGDA Working Papers with number 8812.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:gdm:wpaper:8812
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  1. Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1998. "Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data - or tears : with an application to educational enrollments in states of India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1994, The World Bank.
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