The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has released a study finding that as the education level among women rises in developing countries, the mortality rate among young children in those countries goes down:
Between 1970 and 2009, mortality in children under age 5 dropped from 16 million to 7.8 million annually, and IHME researchers estimate that 51% of the reduction can be linked to increased education among women of reproductive age. This means that 4.2 million fewer children died in 2009 because women received more years of schooling.
“More education helps mothers make better choices in a range of areas – personal hygiene, nutrition, parenting approaches,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, IHME Director and one of the paper’s co-authors. “It also helps them take better care of their own health when pregnant, and, after the child is born, they are able to navigate the expanding array of health services being offered to their families.”
Researchers also believe that higher education levels among mothers will increase the likelihood that they are willing to accept and adopt new medical advances as they become available, thus creating a synergistic effect that can further reduce mortality rates.