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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Early Infant Morbidity in the City of São Paulo, Brazil

Carla J Machado1* and Ken Hill2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Demography, Center for Development and Regional Planning, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil

2 Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, USA

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Population Health Metrics 2003, 1:7  doi:10.1186/1478-7954-1-7

Published: 28 October 2003

Abstract

Background

Early infant morbidities may produce adverse outcomes in subsequent life. A low Apgar score is a convenient measure of early infant morbidity. We study determinants of early infant morbidity (sex, plurality, mode of delivery, prior losses, gestational age, prenatal care and birth weight, parity and maternal age, race, maternal education and community development) for the 1998-birth cohort, City of São Paulo, Brazil.

Methods

This study identified all deliveries that took place in the City of São Paulo during 1998. Information was extracted from 209,628 birth records. We used multivariate logistic regression to assess the effect of each independent variable on Apgar score less than seven at one minute and Apgar score less than seven at five minutes.

Results

Low birth weight, prematurity and community development were found to be strong predictors of morbidity. Maternal education showed strong negative correlation with both Apgar scores. The negative correlations between maternal schooling and Apgar scores were observed after prenatal care, parity and maternal age were included in the model. Unmeasured proximate factors may thus be the true source of disparity between educational groups. Children of very young adolescent mothers had lower Apgar scores at one minute (but not at five minutes) than those born to mothers 15 to 19. Parity one or higher was associated with decreased odds of low Apgar scores. Cesarean section and operative delivery were associated with higher odds of early infant morbidity.

Conclusion

Education may allow mothers to have better care in the peripartum period. More educated mothers may be more likely to recognize certain morbidities through the pregnancy period and the monitoring of such morbidities yields better infant outcomes. Also, having less than seven prenatal care visits was found to predict early infant morbidity and one way to increase the use of such services is to focus on aspects of care that may lead to easier accessibility and continuity of prenatal care. Physicians should inform mothers about the risks associated with high number of children for a next infant and also about the risks for the infant associated with unnecessary cesarean sections. Special attention should be paid to adolescent mothers, since much of their increased risk is likely to be minimized by counseling.