Infant mortality and undernutrition in the squatter settlements of Karachi

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


The socio-demographic and biological processes contributing to infant mortality and undernourishment were studied in five urban squatter settlements of Karachi. All those families who had experienced an infant death in the past 2 years (N = 106) were recruited into the study. Comparative children were selected by random numbers with geographical matching from families with at least one live infant and without a history of infant deaths in the past 2 years. The comparison children were weighed and those found underweight (27 per cent) were studied for the presence of risk factors. Forty-one per cent of all deaths were in the neonatal period, and in 47 per cent of cases deaths had occurred in infants with a birth order of 5 and above. Age, duration of breast feeding, birth interval, and the live/dead status of the previous sibling were significant biological variables accounting for 23 per cent of the variance for survival. Socio-economic status accounted for 22 per cent of the variance and health-seeking behaviour (antenatal care, immunization, etc.) for 28 per cent. Sixty-eight per cent of those underweight were more than 6 months old. Age, female sex, birth interval less than 24 months, duration of breast feeding, adolescent mother, alive/dead status of the previous child were significant influences accounting for 12 per cent of the variance. Socio-economic status and health seeking behaviour were also important determinants, but not to the same extent as in the case of infant death.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Tropical Pediatrics