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Risk Factors/Causes

To understand infant mortality, it is best that you are aware of the risk factors and causes of infant mortality.

Risk Factors

There are some situations and factors that make infant mortality widespread among Latinos. By examining these factors, Latino mothers can explore ways in which they can change or improve these factors to reduce infant mortality.

Research showed that babies of U.S. born Latinas were more likely to die below the age of one than any other groups. This is because:

  • U.S. born Latina mothers show the same behaviors like the Americans.
  • Some of these behaviors like decreased fiber consumption, increased use of alcohol and smoking cigarettes are what lead to higher infant death rates (Hamisu).
  • This is because these behaviors affect the health of a Latina mother and in turn affect the baby¡¯s health therefore causing a higher risk for infant mortality.

Poor pre and postnatal care
Since many Latinas confront poverty and a poor education, they receive poor care before, during and after pregnancy.

  • Studies have shown that few Latina mothers get or have access to care before pregnancy.
  • Because of minimal medical care of pregnant Latinas, infant deaths rates are more likely to increase since health problems are ignored. This greatly increases the risk of pregnancy related complications and infections that go on to affect an infant after birth.
  • In addition, problems like malnutrition, low birth weight and birth defects could arise as a result therefore increasing the chances of infant mortality.

Age at pregnancy
The age at which a mother gives birth is another factor that affects infant mortality rates. -Medical research shows that giving birth at:

  • a very young age (teenager)
  • an old age (above 35)

both increase the risks of infant mortality.
-While teenagers are associated with low birth weight babies and older Latina mothers with birth defect babies (all of which are factors that lead to infant mortality), Latinas continue to give birth even after 35 and have high incidences of teenage pregnancies.



Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- the sudden and unexplained death of a baby below a year of age

  • Infant death syndrome, also called crib death, is due to infant injuries caused by poor sleeping positions, postures and suffocation.
  • However because of poverty and low education, minority mothers like Latinas continue to have a higher risk of SIDS.
  • According to the National Vital Statistics Reports in 2003, Sudden infant death syndrome was the fourth leading cause of infant mortality among Latino babies.



Accessibility | Privacy | ASU Disclaimer This site was created by Joan Wamaniala in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2007.