A groundbreaking new study released by Health Canada suggests that Indigenous children in Canada and several other developed countries have an infant mortality rate four times higher than the non-Indigenous populations of those countries.
The 18-month-long study, Indigenous Children’s Health Report, names poverty as the common factor behind the death rates as hunger and housing contribute significantly to the realities of First Nations families, leading to child deaths. Poor water quality was also named as a factor.
The study surveyed children under 12 in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States and was based on information gathered from different research facilities.
The health report also suggested that social factors and not genetics were to blame since within Canada, one in six First Nations children was born into poverty.
The study also suggested that the medical problems and causes for the deaths among these Indigenous children were dramatically less documented and pursued than those of the general population. Ear infections, respiratory illness and dental problems were all disproportionately noted in all four countries.
Within Canada the infant mortality rate for children living on reserves is twice as high as non-Natives; the study found that of all of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit babies are four times more likely to die.