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Posted by on May 10, 2006 in At TMV | 7 comments

U.S. has second-worst infant mortality rate in the developed world

From CNN, some troubling news:

An estimated 2 million babies die within their first 24 hours each year worldwide and the United States has the second worst newborn mortality rate in the developed world, according to a new report.

American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher in the United States than in Finland, Iceland or Norway, Save the Children researchers found.

Only Latvia, with six deaths per 1,000 live births, has a higher death rate for newborns than the United States, which is tied near the bottom of industrialized nations with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with five deaths per 1,000 births.

Here are a few of the details:

The newborn mortality rate in the United States has fallen in recent decades, the report said, but continues to affect minorities disproportionately.

Only 17 percent of all U.S. births were to African-American families, but 33 percent of all low-birthweight babies were African-American, according to the report.

The research also found that poorer mothers with less education were at a significantly higher risk of early delivery. The study added that in general lower educational attainment was associated with higher newborn mortality.

I don’t know what the answer is, but universal health coverage might help.

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Copyright 2006 The Moderate Voice
  • There’s a strong correlation of low-birthweight babies with prenatal maternal use of alcohol and drugs. Improved prenatal health care might help. Reduced maternal substance abuse would help more.

  • From AP (quoted in Forbes):

    Racial and income disparities are factors in the poor U.S. ranking. Among black Americans, the newborn death rate is 9 per 1,000, which is closer to rates in developing nations than rates in industrialized countries, the AP reported.

    And noting that in the US, racial disparities virtually equal income disparities, how about a tax system that reduces income disparities instead of exacerbating them?

    Just a thought.


  • Rudi

    If Canada’s universal health care is so bad, why isn’t it at the bottom with USA? Maybe Bushco will fix this.

  • I wrote a blog post on this topic, if anyone is interested.

  • BrianOfAtlanta

    There’s a strong correlation of low-birthweight babies with prenatal maternal use of alcohol and drugs.

    There’s also a strong correlation between countries with low reported infant mortality and countries which don’t count low birthweight babies as ever having been alive in the first place. Say, Switzerland, for example, which doesn’t count the deaths of infants less than 30cm long.

  • htom

    Didn’t we used to be the worst?

  • BrianOfAtlanta

    Hey, we’re getting better! You know, I’ll bet if we just brought our infant mortality reporting practices “up” to the standards of the rest of the industrialized world, we’d see even more “improvement”.

    Even then I doubt we’d catch up with Canada or Australia, though, darnit. Unfortunately, their low infant mortality numbers seem to be based in reality rather than creative reporting.

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