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Child and maternal mortality during a period of conflict in Beira City, Mozambique.

  • Cutts, F T
  • Dos Santos, C
  • Novoa, A
  • David, P
  • Macassa, G
  • Soares, A C
Published Article
International journal of epidemiology
Publication Date
Apr 01, 1996
PMID: 9119560


In July 1993, public health specialists conducted a cluster sample survey of 4609 women aged 15-49 living in 3190 houses in Beira city to determine child and maternal mortality after 10 years of internal conflict in Mozambique and a nested case control study of risk factors for child mortality. The indirect estimate techniques were child ever born and preceding birth techniques for child mortality and the sisterhood method for maternal mortality. The case control study compared 106 deaths among the most recent born child born since July 1990 with two age- and cluster-matched controls. The proportion of dead sisters who died of pregnancy-related causes was only 10.3% compared to 25-33% in developing countries. In 1982, the estimated maternal mortality ratio was 410/100,000 live births. The lifetime risk of maternal mortality was 263/1000. The preceding birth technique obtained a much lower child mortality estimate than the child ever born technique (154 vs. 212/1000). The child ever born technique analyzed data from 1977-1978 to 1988-1989 and found that the probability of dying from birth to age 5 fell 14% (246-212). During this period, coverage of health services improved. Even though the preceding birth technique is usually more reliable for recent estimates, underreporting of recent child deaths likely contributed to the lower child mortality estimate. Risk factors for child mortality included no beds in the household (odds ratio [OR] = 2.02), absence of the father (OR = 2.43), low paternal educational level (OR = 2.08), young maternal age (OR = 1.96), self-reported maternal illness since birth of child (OR = 2.43), and home delivery (OR = 2.31). Yet the sensitivity of these risk factors was rather low (15-57%). These findings show that child mortality fell slowly during the 1980s despite the poor living conditions brought about by the indirect effects of the civil war. They point to the need to further evaluate the appropriateness of a risk approach to maternal and child health care needs.

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