For the first time since 1990, the number of Brazilian children who died before their first birthday has risen. According to data from the Ministry of Health, in 2016 Brazil registered a rate of 14 deaths for every 1,000 births – up by 4.8 percent from the previous year. And experts point out that the rate is set to continue this worrying trend when numbers from 2017 are measured.
The 2015-2016 zika virus outbreak and Brazil’s recent recession (the worst on record) are the biggest reasons for the bump in infant mortality rates.
Zika is a mosquito-transmitted disease associated with severe birth defects, such as microcephaly. By December of last year, the Brazilian government confirmed 1,384 cases of babies with microcephaly linked to a zika infection. As the disease scared the population, many women opted for preventing or interrupting pregnancies, which lowered the number of births in the country (something that affects the final infant mortality rate).