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Factors Influencing Prereproductive Mortality in the Isolated and Preindustrial Western Mediterranean Population of La Alpujarra, 1900—1950

F. LUNA, P. MORAL, V. ALONSO and A. FERNANDEZ-SANTANDER
Human Biology
Vol. 79, No. 4 (August 2007), pp. 381-394
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41466495
Page Count: 14
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Factors Influencing Prereproductive Mortality in the Isolated and Preindustrial Western Mediterranean Population of La Alpujarra, 1900—1950
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Abstract

We study the effects of several variables on the prereproductive mortality pattern in the isolated and rural population of La Alpujarra, located on the western Mediterranean coast (southeast Spain), in the first half of the 20th century. The study is a retrospective analysis from a total sample of 2,200 deliveries, 2,085 of which were born alive and 171 of which did not survive to the 20th birthday. The potential influences of birthdate of children, twinning, firstborn, parental inbreeding, and sex on Alpujarran mortality were analyzed through logistic regression. Parity, family size, and birth interval effects were estimated through the difference between observed and expected mortality rates. In every case four age groups of mortality were considered because of the large influence of child growth: neonatal (less than 1 month of life), postneonatal infant (between 1 month and 1 year old), childhood (1-5 years old), and youth (5-20 years old). The Alpujarran prereproductive mortality pattern can be summarized as the result of three main risk factors: biodemographic, biomechanical, and social and health determinants. In general, every factor showed a decreased effect as children grew. The most significant determinants were birthdate of children, which is more related to increased mother's awareness of child care than to health improvement, and family size associated with decreasing alimentary resources as the sibling number increased. Male mortality was higher than female mortality in children older than 1 year but not for infant mortality, possibly as a result of a reproductive behavior favorable to males. Although firstborn status and twinning appeared associated with high mortality, maternal age and birth interval were related to low risk, but these influences always ceased after the first month of life. Parental inbreeding did not show any effect on infant, childhood, or youth mortality.

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