Health situation and trend assessment

Sex differentials in Infant mortality

Infant mortality by sex

Newborn girls have a biological advantage in survival over newborn boys. They have lesser vulnerability to perinatal conditions (including birth trauma, intrauterine hypoxia and birth asphyxia, prematurity, respiratory distress syndrome and neonatal tetanus), congenital anomalies, and such infectious diseases as intestinal infections and lower respiratory infections.(UN Population Division/ from detailed Vital registration analysis of countries).

However, the biological advantage is compromised by discriminatory care of girls in some population groups. As a result, let alone equal, even higher mortality in girls than boys has been observed in some countries.

Situation in SEAR

As shown in the graph below, all countries (except India) of the SEA Region for which data is available have girl infants mortality rates less than that for boy infants. India instead has higher infant mortality among girls. In comparison to China, the country with highest infant mortality sex differential of 33% in the world, it is 4% in India even though the level of infant mortality in China for good is about half of that in India.

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