Study: Infant mortality among First Nations and non-First Nations people in British Columbia 1981 to 2000

Wednesday, July 28 2010

First Nations infants were more likely to be born pre-term, but have heavier birth weights, than non-First Nations infants, according to a recent study of infant mortality in

British Columbia. This was the case in both rural and urban areas of the province.

In addition, infant mortality rates were more than twice as high among First Nations as non-First Nations people. Post-neonatal mortality rates were 3.6 times as high.

However, from 1981 to 2000, infant mortality rates declined 64% for First Nations people living in rural areas, and declined 47% for those in urban areas.

Relative risks of infant mortality for First Nations compared with non-First Nations people were similar for both poor and rich neighbourhoods. This suggests that these disadvantages may be independent of neighbourhood socio-economic status.

Most of the excess infant mortality among First Nations people was due to higher postneonatal mortality, in particular, deaths due to preventable causes, such as sudden infant death syndrome, infection and external causes. This suggests the need for improved socio-economic and living conditions.

The differences in neonatal mortality were largely attributable to higher rates of pre-term birth among First Nations people, rather than to differences in gestational age-specific neonatal mortality, which were not observed.

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