Risk factors of mortality among French Canadian children during the measles epidemic of 1714-1715

Ryan Mazan



Historical data provide an excellent context for analyzing the dynamics of epidemics. This study uses parish data from the Registre de la population du Québec ancien (RPQA)to identify childhood risk factors of measles mortality during the acute episode of the epidemic of 1714-15. As the cause of death was not recorded in those times, several selection criteria were applied to identify individuals who were most likely exposed to measles. Exposed children were compared to control groups subjected to normal mortality conditions. Logistic regression models showed that death varied by age, as 1 to 2 year olds had the highest odds of dying. Contrary to other studies, singletons or children with 1or 2 siblings were more likely to die than children belonging to larger sibships. The age difference between siblings appeared to be more important than the size, as a larger difference increased the odds of death. As well, if a sibling died, the odds of death for the other children in the family were also intensified. When fathers or both parents were immigrants, children were more likely to die than those with French Canadian parents. The findings are explained from a perspective based on studies from modern and historical populations.


Ryan MAZAN, Social/Demographic Statistician, NWT Bureau of Statistics, Government of the Northwest Territories, P.O. Box 1320, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, X1A 2L9, Canada. E.mail:




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ISSN: 2035-5556

Reg. Tribunale di Roma n. 3321/54