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Boys Less Likely to Die in Infancy Than Girls If Born Third, Says Study

Representative Image: Getty Images

Representative Image: Getty Images

According to a story published in an entertainment website, the study underlined the link between infant mortality and birth order of siblings and the role of son preference in influencing the survival of the girl child.

A new study which focuses on the third child shows that boys were less likely than girls to die in infancy if born subsequent to two older sisters. The study shows a 64 percent greater risk for infant mortality for girls relative to boys in children born third.

The study, published The Lancet’s “EClinicalMedicine” journal highlights the fact that just concentrating on sex ratio at birth is not the answer. The third child, especially if a daughter, needs support to survive the odds.

Notably, the analysis is a collaborative effort between the University of California San Diego Center on Gender Equity and Health (GEH, UCSD) and the International Institute on Population Sciences, Mumbai (IIPS).

According to a story published in the Times of India, the study underlined the link between infant mortality and birth order of siblings and the role of son preference in influencing the survival of the girl child. This holds further truth if she is the third daughter after two older sisters.

According to data, in India, the sex composition of older siblings differentially affects risk for infant mortality by sex, with boys born after two sisters and no brothers having lower odds of infant mortality to boys born after an older brother and more importantly to girls born after two sisters and no brothers.

The statistics further showed that sex of the third born child with two older brothers or with one older brother and one older sister also makes the third born male vulnerable.

According to the analysis, while having two living older sisters and no elder brother was significantly protective for the male child, there is no such significant association between being of second or higher birth order and infant mortality for the girl child.

The findings are based on analyses data from National Family Health Surveys 1 - 4 from 1992 to 2016.

According to the study, the lower mortality risk for the third male child may be attributed to greater nutritional and healthcare meted out to the male children. Interestingly, the sex ratio of infant mortality for third born children with two older sisters in 1.4, indicating a 40 percent higher infant mortality for the girl child.

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first published:September 11, 2019, 15:16 IST