Poverty and immigration lie behind high infant mortality rate
Immigration is a major factor contributing to infant mortality rates being 50 per cent higher than the national average in one of France's poorest departments.
With 5.4 deaths before the age of one per 1,000 births, Seine-Saint-Denis department has the highest infant mortality rate in France (continental), the French news portal Actu points out, citing a study published by the Insee research institute. The department’s infant mortality rate is 50 per cent higher than the national average, but in some overseas departments it is even higher. This figure ranges from 6.7 to 8.9 in the departments of Mayotte, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Reunion.
What these departments have in common is a high level of poverty.
The causal link was confirmed by Magali Barbieri, research director at the Institute for Demographic Studies (Institut national d’études démographiques, INED):
„Women living in precarious conditions may miss out on medical examinations. When pregnant, they have other priorities: food, housing, avoiding domestic violence… So pregnancy can take second place,”
she said, adding that although they generally have the same access to health care as any other woman in France, they may lack appropriate information.”We need to support local associations, which are best placed to disseminate this type of information to women.”
Another important factor in the Seine-Saint-Denis department is the presence of immigrant populations, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa. This is confirmed by the INED study carried out by Magali Barbieri.
Seine-Saint-Denis is the department with the highest proportion of immigrant women, who have a number of specific health problems that were already present when they arrived. These include obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, which leads to more premature births, the study writes.
It also highlights another problem:
Another factor is language and culture. There are communication problems, both with women who have difficulty understanding medical procedures during pregnancy, and with health workers who are not trained to deal with non-medical problems.
This leads to coordination problems in particular,” the study adds.