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Parents' Death and its Implications for Child Survival
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    Rev Bras Crescimento Desenvolv Hum. 21(3):759-770.
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    Rev Bras Crescimento Desenvolv Hum
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    Reduction of child mortality is a global public health priority. Parents can play an important role in reducing child mortality. The inability of one or both parents to care for their children due to death, illness, divorce or separation increases the risk of death of their children. There is increasing evidence that the health, education, and socioeconomic status of mothers and fathers have significant impact on the health and survival of their children. We conducted a literature review to explore the impact of the death of parents on the survival and wellbeing of their children and the mechanisms through which this impact is mediated. Studies have generally concluded that the death of a mother significantly increased the risk of death of her children, especially during the early years; the effect continues but is significantly reduced with increasing age through the age of 15 years. The effect of the loss of a father had less impact than the effect of losing a mother although it too had negative consequences for the survival prospect of the child. A mother's health, education, socioeconomic status, fertility behavior, environmental health conditions, nutritional status and infant feeding, and the use of health services all play an important role in the level of risk of death of her children. Efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal No. 4 of reducing children's under-5 mortality in developing countries by two thirds by 2015 should include promoting the health and education of women.

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