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Current health inequality targets include the goal of reducing the differential in infant mortality between social groups. This article reports on a multivariate analysis of risk factors for infant mortality, with specific focus on deprivation and socio-economic status. Data on all singleton live births in England and Wales in 2005-06 were used, and deprivation quintile (Carstairs index) was assigned to each birth using postcode at birth registration. Deprivation had a strong independent effect on infant mortality, risk of death tending to increase with increasing levels of deprivation. The strength of this relationship depended, however, on whether the babies were low birthweight, preterm or small-for-gestational-age. Trends of increasing mortality risk with increasing deprivation were strongest in the postneonatal period. Uniquely, this article reports the number and proportion of all infant deaths which would potentially be avoided if all levels of deprivation were reduced to that of the least deprived group. It estimates that one quarter of all infant deaths would potentially be avoided if deprivation levels were reduced in this way.

Original publication




Journal article


Health Stat Q

Publication Date



22 - 39


England, Female, Humans, Infant Mortality, Infant, Newborn, Male, Multivariate Analysis, Registries, Social Class, Wales