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Mother’s Death, Sibling Care and Child Survival in the Past Québec population A.Gagnon 2, S. Pavard 2, B. Desjardins 3, E. Heyer 2 1 Population Studies.

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Presentation on theme: "Mother’s Death, Sibling Care and Child Survival in the Past Québec population A.Gagnon 2, S. Pavard 2, B. Desjardins 3, E. Heyer 2 1 Population Studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mother’s Death, Sibling Care and Child Survival in the Past Québec population A.Gagnon 2, S. Pavard 2, B. Desjardins 3, E. Heyer 2 1 Population Studies Centre, Department of Sociology, University of Western Ontario, Canada 2 UMR 5145 Éco-Anthropologie Equipe « génétique des populations humaines » Musée de l’Homme, France 3 Programme de recherches en démographie historique, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada.

2 Rationale for this study Biodemography –Natural selection at different ages of life, and, in particular, the origins of menopause –Idea: Lost of maternal care (by maternal mortality) decreases the chances for survival of already borne children –In the curse of human evolution, selection for stopping reproduction (when it becomes too dangerous)

3 Death of the mother is a relatively rare event  Need many cases to attain statistical significance Few possibilities to make a retrospective study  The most reliable person to be questioned on child survival (the mother) is dead, not available Consequently, very few studies addressed this question Way to overcome these problems: demographic database with longitudinal observation Difficulty of the study

4 DATA: Registre de population du Québec ancien ( ), PRDH, Université de Montréal -Contains > 712,000 records (birth, marriage and death certificates)  Approximately 400,000 births available But, - Many children retrieved because their survival was clearly affected by confounders (short birth interval, etc.) In total: 83,229 individual records of live birth (from 1625 to 1759) Among them, 9,840 children lost their mother before age fifteen (still large sample size) … makes up for lack of qualitative data…

5 Survival to age 15 according to the survival status of the mother

6 Odds ratio of dying of motherless children (against children whose mother was alive) *p < 0.05 **p < ***p < ****p < : Deaths occurring after mother’s death

7 General mortality (mother’s alive) Deaths occurring before mother’s death Deaths occurring after mother’s death Time Mother’s death takes place here

8 General mortality level (mother’s alive) Deaths occurring before mother’s death Among the deaths occurring after mo- ther’s death, many are due to the fact that mortality is higher in some fa- milies and not to maternal care lack. Time Mother’s death takes place here Deaths occurring after mother’s death

9 General mortality (mother’s alive) Mother’s death takes place here Corrected number of deaths: Deaths of children occurring because of mother’s death (lack of maternal care) Time

10 Mortality (28 days - 5 years) (0/00) *p < 0.05 **p < ***p < ****p < : Deaths occurring after mother’s death Odd ratios of dying for motherless children corrected for family heterogeneity Age group

11 Gender difference in the risk of death for motherless kids?

12 Survival to age 15 per sex according to the survival status of the mother

13 Survival up to age 15 (this includes only those who died)

14 Percentage of increase of mortality related to mother’s death Age group *p < 0.05 **p < ***p < ****p < : Deaths occurring after mother’s death

15 Two hypotheses 1) Girls could be more “psychologically” affected by the death of the mother than boys (Child Bereavement Study, Worden, 1996) 2) Girls took up the responsibility of the missing mother  Entails a higher risk of death by “investing in someone else” or by cross infections

16 Sibling care?

17 Proportional hazard regression (or Cox regression) estimates of the odds of dying between age 3 and 15 given the number of elderly siblings Mother ALIVE Boys (27 226) Girls (27778 ) Exp (B) Sign. Exp (B) Sign. Mother’s age < > Older brothers None or Older sisters None or No significant impact…

18 Proportional hazard regression (or Cox regression) estimates of the odds of dying between age 3 and 15 given the number of elderly siblings

19 Risks of death for children whose mother died (Cox) Included variables : B SE Wald ddl p Exp(B) - Age of the mother at birth Age of the child at the death of the mother Older brothers None – – or Older sisters None – – or

20 Conclusion Mother’s death and child survival: –The younger was the child when losing his/her mother, the higher was the risk –But significantly diminished chances for survival over all childhood Sex differentials and “sibling care”: –Boys generally had a higher mortality –They died sooner than girls (endogenous causes) –But girls seemed to be more affected by mother’s death (two hypotheses) –Older sisters appeared to offer a “protector effect”

21 End


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