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16th Sep 2022

New Irish study finds employment status and ethnicity impact infant survival rates

Trine Jensen-Burke

infant survival rates

This is pretty shocking.

According to brand new data from the Irish Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, the stillbirth and infant death rate for African-born mothers giving birth in Ireland is between 1.5 and two times higher than for Irish-born mothers.

The researchers also found that the perinatal mortality rate — stillbirths and deaths in the first week of life — for unemployed mothers is up to 2.2 times higher than those in a higher professional group.

“The perinatal mortality rate for unemployed mothers was between 1.6 and 2.2 times the rate of mothers in the higher professional group,” the report states.

“Similarly, African-born mothers experienced significantly higher rates of perinatal mortality throughout the period, between 1.5 and two times higher than mothers born in Ireland.”

The report adds: “The significantly higher risk of perinatal mortality for children of African-born mothers is striking.”

Overall rates have improved

The ESRI’s latest report analysing mortality rates nationally has found that while overall rates have improved in the 22 years since 2000, certain sections of the population have not benefited.

Overall, the ESRI found adult mortality rates improved from 10.5 per 1,000 population in 2000 to 8.1 in 2018. Note that men had higher rates than women.

The perinatal mortality rate improved substantially from 8.3 per 1,000 deaths in 2000 to 5.4 in 2019 overall, the ESRI said.

However, this did not help all families, and co-author Anne Nolan said:

“Despite the overall improvement in mortality rates in Ireland in recent decades, the findings in this report highlight a number of groups that are vulnerable to higher mortality rates, and which require policy attention.”

Covid deaths also impacted by poverty

The research also found that Covid deaths were impacted by poverty – and also, to a lesser extent, ethnicity.

Analysis of Covid-19 mortality between March 2020 and May last year showed people over-65 in less advantaged groups accounted for a higher proportion of deaths compared to their numbers.

Before the pandemic, the report says non-white and non-Irish groups had lower mortality rates than white and, or Irish-born or Irish nationals.

However, analysing Covid deaths by ethnicity, the ESRI found: “While the numbers of deaths in non-white groups were very small overall, those with black- or Asian-Irish ethnicity accounted for slightly higher proportions of Covid-19 deaths than their respective shares in the 65+ population.”