In this study, the selected socio-demographic characteristics (age, residence, education, wealth index and religion) were significantly associated with region. The subgroup analysis revealed that the women also exhibited regional differences in these characteristics. The study also discovered that across the two regions, majority of the respondents were between the ages of 25–29 and higher number of respondents were living in the rural than urban areas. This finding is in accordance with the latest census report in Nigeria [7
]. However, the proportion of rural–urban residents’ women was higher in the north than the south. This is also expected as the geographical distribution of proportion of rural–urban areas in Nigeria show that it was higher in the north than the south [7
Majority of the women in the northern region had no education, whereas in the south majority had secondary education. The possible reason for this differential is early marriage among female children which is commonly practiced in the north [3
]. With respect to wealth index, higher proportion of women in the north than the south belonged to poorest wealth index, whereas, majority of the women in the south were in the richest wealth index category. Due to culture and religion, most women in the north, particularly women of childbearing age do not participate actively in labor force. However, in the south, the literacy level had undermined most of the cultural attitudes against women, particularly; those that made women to remain full housewife have accorded women opportunity to engage in one job or the other. Islam was the mostly practiced religion in the north among the women, while in the south it was Christianity. This is expected as residents in the northern and southern Nigeria are predominantly Muslims and Christians respectively [7
The study is evidenced that significance association existed between experienced childhood mortality and region. The prevalence of experienced childhood mortality in Nigeria was 40.3% and differential existed by region as it was higher in the north (47.3%) than the south (30.9%). Similar patterns of death among children were observed in the northern and southern regions across the selected socio-demographic characteristics, but variation existed in these patterns across subgroups of women in the two regions. Women in the north experienced higher childhood mortality than the south. Poor and harsh climatic conditions in the north and high level of literacy in the south [3
] can be attributed to the difference. Better access and utilization of modern health facilities in terms of antenatal care, delivery place and assistance at delivery by women in the South than the North can also be possible explanations for the north–south gap in childhood mortality [3
Across all age groups, higher childhood deaths experienced was recorded by women in the North than their counterparts in the South. In each of the age group, the percentage of women who experienced childhood mortality increases with increase in age of women. This is expected in any setting, since older women tend to bear more children than the younger ones and as a result having more children who are exposed to the risk of dying than the children of younger women. This increases cumulative childhood deaths among older women than the younger ones [21
The place of residence is usually seen as a place where differentials in childhood mortality can be observed. The differentials are largely attributed to such factors as the differences in the standards of living, accessibility of public health and medical health care facilities and differences in the social and economic status of families. In either of the regions, rural women experienced higher childhood mortality than urban women. This may not be far from the fact that modern health care utilization viz; affordability, accessibility and acceptability are more common among women in the urban than rural areas [3
]. Also high literacy level and access to health information in the urban than rural areas can undermine cultural factors that tend to influence child’s health seeking behaviors. The result is consistent with the findings from the study conducted by Narayan Sastry, 2009. This paper presents an analysis of differentials in child survival by rural–urban place of residence in Brazil and found that Child mortality rates were substantially and significantly lower in urban areas of Brazil. The author's results suggest, however, that the urban advantage does not simply reflect underlying differences in socioeconomic and behavioral characteristics at the individual and household levels; rather, community variables appear to play an independent and important role [22
The proportion of mothers that have lost at least a child in the past fell consistently as the levels of education increases but at pal in the two regions. This finding is consistent with that reported by Adetunji in 2002 [13
]. This is an indication that irrespective of the region, education is a fundamental factor to consider in terms of child survival. It erodes socio-cultural ideology of women in terms of providing adequate health needs and care for their children, hence enhancing their survival. The study by Nwogu and his collegues in 2008, showed that the literacy rate and domestic spending on healthcare were statistically significant identified factors influencing childhood mortality in Nigeria and recommended that the country needs a unified approach to healthcare delivery so as to overcome cultural and political divisions in Nigeria [8
]. The study by Kirosa and Hogan also supported the findings from the current study. Their study utilized 1994 Population Census of Ethiopia and child mortality levels and trends were estimated using indirect methods, found that enormous variations exist in child mortality by parental education and was highest among children born to illiterate parents [20
Striking differential existed between childhood mortality experience by mothers who belong to Islamic religious sect in the North and in the South. The proportion of Muslim women in the North who experienced childhood mortality was almost twice that of the South. Possible explanation is that women in the South are more educated than that of the North [7
]. Women in the North are predominantly Muslims and bear more children, live shorter births interval, less utilized modern health facilities than their counterparts in the South [7
]. The Christian mothers in the South had higher childhood mortality experience than their Muslim counterparts, but reverse is the case for Christians and Muslims in the North. Meanwhile, children of traditional followers in the North had lower childhood mortality than their counterparts in the South.
Wealth index also showed an inverse relationship with childhood death in the two regions. The gap in childhood mortality between the poorest and richest was wider in the North than the South. This is consistent with the study of Kembo and Van Ginneken [23
]. It is alarming to know that the percentage of mothers who had experienced childhood mortality in the poorest wealth category in the South was lower than that of the richer in the North. Polygamy and attitudes of heads of the families towards childcare in these regions could be the reasons for the gap. Sharing of income and wealth between members of the family can have adverse effects on every member if the family is large as always found in majority of Northern homes [24
The study further revealed that there was no significant difference in the risk of childhood mortality in the urban and rural areas in the North however; the difference was significant in the South with rural women more likely to have experienced child deaths than urban women. Children of the poor are significantly more likely to die than that of the rich and the higher the level of education the lower the risk of mortality among children in the two regions.
The probabilities of dying increased with the age of children in the two regions. Across all ages of the children, probabilities of dying were consistently higher in the North than the South. The life-table mortality levels were lower in the North than the South, showing an indication of higher previous childhood mortality experience in the North than in the South. The smoothening of mortality probabilities either reduces or increases the unadjusted mortality probabilities in the two regions. But clear differences existed between the unadjusted and adjusted childhood probabilities of dying in both regions. A similar study conducted in Bangladesh in 1997 supported the findings [25
]. The implication of this finding is that better policies are made based on the adjusted estimates, as these will provide true childhood mortality situations in the two regions than those first thought. The adjusted estimates also give a better basis for comparison between nations.