In Brussels, more than four out of ten children (43%) are born into a family living below the poverty line. These are families having an income below 867 euros per month with a single parent. This is reported in both La Libre Belgique and De Standaard on Wednesday on the basis of a study by the Department for Public Health at the Free University of Brussels, supported by the King Baudouin Foundation (KBF).
Calculations were made as part of the research, from data available for all recorded births in Brussels between 2004 and 2010. The study stresses that amongst the households in precarious financial situations at the time the babies are born, 80% relate to mothers of non-European origin.
The figures vary from one nationality to another. Some 70% of babies born in Brussels, with mothers of sub-Saharan African origin, are born below the poverty threshold.
This is the most “at risk” community, above that of North African babies (65%) and children whose mothers originate from Eastern Europe (61%) or Turkey (60%). The poverty rate of Belgian-Brussels babies is comparable to the national average – 18.3%.
The study shows that the children of immigrant mothers have an increased risk of dying between the 22nd week of pregnancy and the seventh day of their life than children of Belgian-Brussels mothers.
However, there is less risk (all other conditions being equal) of having a low weight, a revealing indicator of conditions adverse to development. The researchers’ conclusion is that although social status increases the risks for the baby’s health, having a foreign origin in fact reduces them.
The other significant point is that one in six Brussels infants is born into a single parent family.