Infant mortality (IM) is an important health index. Avoidable deaths are those preventable through effective health services. Analyses by race seek to reflect racial inequalities in access to health services. To describe avoidable IM from the Brazilian List of Avoidable Deaths (LBE). A descriptive study of avoidable child deaths among Caucasians and Afro-descendents in Belo Horizonte from 2000 to 2007. We calculated the infant mortality rate (IMR), the neonatal IMR (N IMR) and Postneonatal IMR (PN IMR), infant mortality proportional to avoidable cause (IMPAC) and infant mortality proportional to ill-defined causes (IDC). There was a reduction of 31.23% in the IMR, of 32.6% in the N IMR and of 28.4% in the PN IMR. Avoidable deaths accounted for 70.2% of the total, and this percentage was higher (73.8%) among Afro-descendants. The highest percentage occurred in the subgroup “newborn care” (48.6%). Afro-descendants accounted for 52.9% and Caucasians for 42.8% of these deaths. The main causes were respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, with the highest proportion for Afro-descendants (29.8%). Deaths from IDC decreased 23.8% in the period, but the largest proportion occurred among Afro-descendants (4.5%). Filling in of information on the variable race/colour still presents problems. We observed a high number of deaths by “newborn care” and “pregnancy care.” We detected racial inequality in IMPAC, Afro-descendant children having the highest percentages. These inequalities are influenced by socio-economic status and access to health services. The health services play a fundamental role in reducing the gaps in infant mortality observed in this study.
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