Determinantes biológicos y socioeconómicos de la sobrevivencia en la infancia.

Translated title of the contribution: Biological and socioeconomic determinants of child survival

W. H. Mosley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This document describes advances in a conceptual framework under development since 1984 for research on child survival in developing countries. The framework links variables explaining biologically determined disease processes to social determinants in the family and community. The major addition is the extension of previous models of proximate determinants to include fertility-child survival interactions, as well as the interaction between child growth and child survival. The role of health policies within the framework of proximate determinants is also explored. A strategy oriented toward specific diseases will not prove successful in developing countries, where most infant and child deaths are not due to a single cause but rather are the final product of a series of episodes of infection combined with malnutrition. Health policies must therefore identify the risk factors that reduce probabilities of survival as well as the pathologies that actually cause death. Risk factors can be classified as proximate determinants, the basic biological mechanisms that directly influence risks of morbidity and mortality, and underlying determinants, all the other social and environmental determinants that operate indirectly through the proximate determinants to influence infant survival. The 1st step in applying the focus on proximate determinants is to achieve a clear understanding of some measurable biological indicators of health and child survival or of their opposites, illness and death. Abnormal growth has been found to be a sensitive and nonspecific indicator of morbidity in children. Measurement of height and weight could serve as the social science counterpart of mortality measurement for a demographer. Mortality and permanent growth stunting are both indicators reflecting different points of chronic and irreversible physical deterioration on the continuum that ranges from good health to death. The proposed conceptual framework integrates Bongaarts' proximate fertility determinants with the proximate child survival determinants proposed in an earlier work by Mosley and Chen. 9 specific determinants are divided into 4 categories of factors that influence both child survival and fertility: factors regulating exposure to conception (sexual union, coital frequency), lactation, ecological risk (dietary deficiency, environmental contamination, accidents), and direct interventions (personal preventive measures, curative measures, and intentionally inflicted lesions). 5 groups of underlying determinants operate through the proximate determinants: individual factors, family factors, cultural factors, institutional factors, and environmental factors.

Translated title of the contributionBiological and socioeconomic determinants of child survival
Original languageSpanish
Pages (from-to)312-328
Number of pages17
JournalSalud Publica de Mexico
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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