Infant Mortality Across the Rural-Urban Gradient in the United States

Emily Shrider , University of Wisconsin-Madison
H Daphne Kuo, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Russell Kirby, University of South Florida
Amy Godecker, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Deborah Ehrenthal, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Recent research suggests that infant mortality (IM) varies across the US rural-urban gradient. Specifically, IM increases as areas become more rural. While a similar “rural mortality penalty” has been studied in adults, the reason for this gap in IM is unknown. This study seeks to explore this gap by considering the health care, health behavior, and socioeconomic and environmental factors that might contribute to it. Using a combination of descriptive statistics, decomposition analyses, and multilevel regressions, we examine whether IM, the maternal characteristics associated with IM, and birthweight vary across the rural-urban gradient, and examine how much of this variation is explained by rurality. Initial findings suggest that there is variation in the IM rate and characteristics associated with IM by level of rurality. Rural areas also have higher rates of birthweight-specific mortality than other areas.

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 Presented in Session 86. Spatial Distribution of Diseases and Deaths