Mapping the quality of prenatal and postnatal care and demographic differences on child mortality in 26 low to middle-income countries

Kelly Lin, Serena Chern, Jing Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Closing the gap between child mortality in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and high-income countries is a priority set by the WHO in sustainable development goals (SDGs). We aimed to examine poor nutrition and prenatal and postnatal care that could increase the risk of child mortality in LMICs. Methods: The Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) was used to examine data from 26 countries to compare prenatal, postnatal, nutritional, and demographic factors across LMICs. Outcome of child death was classified into death before one month of age, between 1 to 11 months, between one to two years, between three to five years, and overall death before five years. Chi-square analyses identified differences in prenatal care, postnatal care, nutrition, and demographic factors between children who died and those who survived. Logistic regression identified factors that increased child mortality risk. Results: The majority of deaths occurred before the ages of one month and one year. Considerably poorer quality of prenatal care, postnatal care, and nutrition were found in low-income and low-middle-income countries in the contemporary 2020s. High child mortality and poor quality of prenatal and postnatal care coincide with low income. Children in LMICs were exposed to less vitamin A-rich foods than children in higher-middle-income countries. The use of intestinal parasite drugs and the absence of postpartum maternal vitamin A supplementation significantly increased child mortality risk. Significant socio-demographic risk factors were associated with an increased mortality rate in children, including lack of education, maternal marital status, family wealth index, living rurally, and financial problems hindering access to healthcare. Conclusions: Poor nutrition remains a vital factor across all LMICs, with numerous children being exposed to foods low in iron and vitamin A. Significantly, most deaths occur in neonates and infants, indicating an urgent need to address risk factors associated with early child death.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-850
Number of pages16
JournalWorld Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number9
Early online dateJan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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