A national newspaper Friday blamed poor sanitation and incest for the high Soviet infant mortality rate, which is more than double that of the United States and many other developed countries.
The labor newspaper Trud said the national average for infant mortality is 25 deaths per 1,000 live births, but that the rate went as high as 70 per 1,000 in some areas of Central Asia.The U.S. rate is 10 per 1,000 births, according to 1987 figures.
Women in the Central Asian republics often take their family's drinking water from irrigation ditches, the newspaper said. This leads to intestinal infections, cited as the cause of many of the infant deaths, Trud said.
Even some hospitals in the region lack indoor plumbing and running water, and women in Central Asia tend to bear their children too close together, weakening the body's defenses against infection, the report said.
The tendency of some Central Asian ethnic groups to intermarry also was blamed for raising the infant mortality rate.
An article in the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda last month said incest was the major factor in the Soviet Union's high infant death rate.
In contrast, Trud said, the 11 per 1,000 infant mortality rate in the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia is equal to or lower than that of the United States and West European nations.