Monitoring change in child mortality through household surveys

Kenneth Hill, Eoghan Brady, Linnea Zimmerman, Livia Montana, Romesh Silva, Agbessi Amouzou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Most low- And middle-income countries lack fully functional civil registration systems. Measures of under-five mortality are typically derived from periodic household surveys collecting detailed information from women on births and child deaths. However, such surveys are expensive and are not appropriate for monitoring short-term changes in child mortality.We explored and tested the validity of two new analysis methods for less-expensive summary histories of births and child deaths for such monitoring in five African countries. Methods and Findings The first method we explored uses individual-level survey data on births and child deaths to impute full birth histories from an earlier survey onto summary histories from a more recent survey. The second method uses cohort changes between two surveys in the average number of children born and the number of children dead by single year of age to estimate under-five mortality for the inter-survey period. The first method produces acceptable annual estimates of under-five mortality for two out of six applications to available data sets; the second method produced an acceptable estimate in only one of five applications, though none of the applications used ideal data sets. Conclusions The methods we tested were not able to produce consistently good quality estimates of annual under-five mortality from summary birth history data. The key problem we identified was not with the methods themselves, but with the underlying quality of the summary birth histories. If summary birth histories are to be included in general household surveys, considerable emphasis must be placed on quality control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0137713
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Monitoring change in child mortality through household surveys'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this