Common Causes Of Infant Mortality
What is infant mortality rate?
Infant mortality rate or IMR is defined as the number of death of infants (an infant is a baby below one year of age) per thousand (1,000) live births in a year. This definition of IMR is accepted everywhere, as well as formula for calculating Infant Mortality Rate, but the definition of live birth varies from country to country and IMR as shown by different Governments are also inaccurate due to different definitions of live births. For example, Japan and some European countries define live birth, only if an infant breaths at birth, whereas in other countries live birth is defined if there is any sign of life in the infant after birth, such as breathing, voluntary muscle movement, or heartbeat etc. The definition used in Japan reduces IMR but increase the perinatal mortality rate.
So, what should all countries do? The answer is simple: follow a single and uniform definition of live birth, as given by World Health Organization (WHO). World Health Organization define live birth as: "any born human being who demonstrates independent signs of life, such as breathing, voluntary muscle movement, or heartbeat". Any born child should be included who shows signs of life, irrespective of size (or weight of the baby) and months of gestation, according to WHO.
What are the causes of infant mortality?
There are several causes of infant mortality (death of babies below one year of age), some of which are common and some are less common. The causes of infant death vary in great extent in developing and developed countries. For example in developing countries the commonest causes are respiratory infections, diarrhea etc., but in developed countries the common causes of infant mortality are congenital malformations and other incurable diseases. Till few decades ago, traditionally the commonest cause of death of infants (as well as children below five years of age) throughout the world was dehydration due to diarrhea (and the commonest cause of diarrhea among infants and children was rotavirus diarrhea). But due to successful spread of information about the use of Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS, which is a mixture of sugar, common salt, potassium chloride and water) has reduced the infant mortality drastically.
At present the commonest cause of infant death is respiratory infections such as pneumonia, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries. Other common causes of infant mortality includes other infections (other than respiratory infections), malnutrition, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), malaria etc. Other less common causes include child abuse, neglect of infants (especially female child), infanticide etc.