Does Birth Interval Matter in Under-Five Mortality? Evidence from Demographic and Health Surveys from Eight Countries in West Africa

Eugene BUDU, Bright Opoku AHINKORAH, Edward Kwabena AMEYAW, Abdul Aziz SEIDU, Betregiorgis ZEGEYE, Sanni YAYA*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), every 1 in 12 children under five dies every year compared with 1 in 147 children in the high-income regions. Studies have shown an association between birth intervals and pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and intrauterine growth restriction. In this study, we examined the association between birth interval and under-five mortality in eight countries in West Africa. A secondary analysis of the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from eight West African countries was carried out. The sample size for this study comprised 52,877 childbearing women (15-49 years). A bivariate logistic regression analysis was carried out and the results were presented as crude odds ratio (cOR) and adjusted odds ratios (aOR) at 95% confidence interval (CI). Birth interval had a statistically significant independent association with under-five mortality, with children born to mothers who had >2 years birth interval less likely to die before their fifth birthday compared to mothers with ≤2 years birth interval [cOR=0.56; CI=0.51-0.62], and this persisted after controlling for the covariates [aOR=0.55; CI=0.50-0.61]. The country-specific results showed that children born to mothers who had >2 years birth interval were less likely to die before the age of five compared to mothers with ≤2 years birth interval in all the eight countries. In terms of the covariates, wealth quintile, mother's age, mother's age at first birth, partner's age, employment status, current pregnancy intention, sex of child, size of child at birth, birth order, type of birth, and contraceptive use also had associations with under-five mortality. We conclude that shorter birth intervals are associated with higher under-five mortality. Other maternal and child characteristics also have associations with under-five mortality. Reproductive health interventions aimed at reducing under-five mortality should focus on lengthening birth intervals. Such interventions should be implemented, taking into consideration the characteristics of women and their children.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5516257
Number of pages10
JournalBioMed Research International
Volume2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

The authors thank the MEASURE DHS project for their support and for free access to the original data.

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