Infant mortality is a major public health issue in developing countries. This study aims to test the associations between infant mortality from preventable causes in Brazil and socioeconomic factors, including those pertaining to health services and investments. This was an ecological study using data from 2000 to 2002. 296 Brazilian counties (municipalities) with more than 80 000 inhabitants each were the analytical units. Kruskall-Wallis and ANOVA tests were performed to compare independent variables according to infant mortality quartile, and Pearson and Spearman's correlation coefficients were computed to test the associations. As the infant mortality quartile from preventable causes increases, there is a gradual decrease in the municipal human development index, per capita gross domestic product, households with bathrooms and indoor plumbing, total health expenditures per inhabitant, and physicians per 1000 inhabitants, and an increase in the Gini coefficient. Improved socioeconomic conditions and public health investments are strongly associated with reduction of infant mortality from preventable causes. This knowledge should permeate actions aimed at minimising the number and unequal distribution of such deaths.
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