Exclusive Breastfeeding And Infant Mortality

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Exclusive Breastfeeding and Infant Mortality: If We Nudge, Will Mothers Budge?

Section I: Introduction

West Africa has the highest infant mortality rate in the world - for every 1000 live births, 70 children die before their first birthday (Wang, 2014). National infant mortality rates vary from 18.8 deaths per 1000 live births in Cape Verde to 89.9 deaths per 1000 live births in Guinea-Bissau. Nonetheless, the leading causes of infant mortality are largely the same across the region: neonatal conditions (26 percent), malaria (21 percent), pneumonia (21 percent), diarrhea (17 percent), measles (6 percent) and HIV/AIDS (4 percent). The “desired children” hypothesis of fertility asserts that high fertility primarily reflects desired number of children (Pritchett, 1994). In this regard, high infant mortality may motivate women to have more children to attain their preferred family size. Thus aside the important population health implications of reducing high infant mortality rates, demographic theory predicts that improved child survival is accompanied by declines in fertility reflecting reduced demand for replacement births to achieve a given target family size. The influence of reduced infant mortality on fertility decline has also been established empirically in a wide range of settings (Barnum, 1988). Declines in infant mortality, falls in fertility rates, and lower average family sizes lead to changes in population age structure and stimulate increased female labor
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