Premature delivery and birth defects are major causes of high neonatal death rates in families from deprived areas, according to researchers from the University of Leicester.
Researchers investigated all neonatal deaths in England from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2007.
Neonatal mortality was more than twice as high in the most deprived areas than the least.
They also found 80 per cent of the deaths were attributable to premature birth and congenital anomalies.
The authors called for more research into the link between deprivation and premature delivery.
The study was published in the BMJ online.