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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 8 May 1969

Vol. 240 No. 6

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Infant Mortality Rate.


asked the Minister for Health the main reasons why the infant mortality rate in Ireland is 24 per 1,000 live births compared with 13 per 1,000 in the Netherlands; and what steps are being taken to lower the rate here.

It would not be possible without a detailed comparative study to answer the Deputy's question fully. Traditionally the factors which have given us a comparatively high infant mortality rate here are the high fertility rate, the late age of marriage for women, religious convictions and the rarity of therapeutic abortion.

However, it is only reasonable to point out that the infant mortality rate has been substantially reduced here in the last 25 to 30 years. In the early 1940s it was 66 deaths per 1,000 live births. The figure for 1967 is 24. This reduction, which can be expected to continue, was brought about by many factors including in particular a continuous process of improvements in the standard and availability of maternity and infant services, which includes ante-natal and post-natal care, and which are now free of charge to nine-tenths of the population. Furthermore, expectant mothers are making earlier and more frequent use of the ante-natal services available.