IF 2014

Infant mortality and life expectancy in China

Yanhua Xu, Weifang Zhang, Rulai Yang, Chaochun Zou, Zhengyan Zhao

(Department of Newborn Screening, Children’s Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China (mainland))

Med Sci Monit 2014; 20:379-385

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.890204

Published: 2014-03-07

Background: It is reported that the infant mortality (IM) rate decreased rapidly in China and the life expectancy (LE) also had a high increase. Our objective was to determine the health status of the Chinese population by investigating IM and LE and their inter-relationship.
Material and Methods: Based on a literature review on the history and current status of IM and LE in China and other major countries, the relationship between IM, LE, and per capita gross national income (GNI) was investigated in 2013.
Results: The decline in IM from 30% to 15% took China only 7 years, which was faster than in developed countries. The leading causes of infant death in China were perinatal diseases, infectious and parasitic diseases, congenital anomalies, accidents, and signs, symptoms, and ill-defined conditions. Most under-5 mortality occurred during infancy (80%), particularly during the neonatal period (55%). LE was negatively correlated with IM (r=–0.921, P<0.001) and per capita GNI (r=0.778, P<0.001), while IM was negatively correlated with per capita GNI (r=–0.735, P<0.001). However, healthcare capabilities and per capita GNI in China are still below the level of developing countries. Some countries have a comparable IM and healthcare capabilities, but they have a much higher per capita GNI than China.
Conclusions: In China, IM has decreased and IE increased rapidly. However, they were not in parallel with the current economic development. Deviation of these data might be attributed to many factors. In-house surveys and hospital-based follow-ups should be carried out to better understand infant death.

Keywords: Life Expectancy, Infant Mortality, Cause of Death, Child, Preschool, China - epidemiology, Delivery of Health Care - utilization, Humans, Infant, Internationality, Public Health - economics, Time Factors