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U.S. Ranks Poorly in Infant Mortality Rates

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Here we sit in the United States of America. A country that is supposed to have an amazingly superior health care system and a "better way of doing things."

Now, most regular readers here know that I don't tend to agree with "our way of doing things" when it comes to birth. Hospital births these days tend to be highly medicalized and full of unnecessary interventions. The truth is, that just isn't working for us.

Here's proof.

The U.S. Ranks 2nd to Last in Infant Mortality Among Industrialized Nations

Among 33 industrialized nations, the United States is tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly 5 per 1,000 babies, according to a new report. Latvia's rate is 6 per 1,000.

In the analysis of global infant mortality, Japan had the lowest newborn death rate, 1.8 per 1,000 and four countries tied for second place with 2 per 1,000 _ the Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland and Norway.

The article tends to blame most of the problem on higher rates of teen pregnancy and obesity and also cites the fact that economic disparities coupled with our health care crisis is responsible.

I have no doubt that plays a role, but the United States also tends to have much higher rates of iatrogenic issues for both mother and baby than many of these other countries. In fact, of the top five, only Japan is anywhere near as intervention happy as the United States.

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  1. Blogger Brian | 9:53 PM |  

    This is simply a measurement problem. THe United States measures infant mortality differently than Japan and the other industrialized countries. If it measured infant mortality the same way as the rest of the industrialized world, it would be 4th or 5th behind Japan, Sweden and Finland.

  2. Blogger Jennifer | 5:29 AM |  

    I was reading up yesterday and found that there are some discrepancy issues, but from what I understand, there's no way that it would catapult us that far up the list.

    I seem to recall that we'd still rank around 22nd, instead of where we are now.

    To note...the differences occur on a few fronts...

    1.) We have better reporting than many countries
    2.) Some countries don't count babies that are born with genetic disorders that would lead to their deaths
    3.) Rats, there's another one, but I can't remember it right at this moment...

  3. Anonymous the SmockLady | 8:08 AM |  

    No matter what our number is, we shouldn't be this far down on the list. I don't have a problem with the way some countries don't count genetic disorders - I can see that. They are only counting healthy children whose deaths are caused by things that could have been helped. A country like ours with all we have at our disposal, our money, our knowledge, our abilities, should be able to do better than we are doing. I know that there are issues like teen pregnancy and drug addictions during pregnancy, but I also think that the amount of medical intervention during normal, healthy pregnancies and deliveries is way too high and that also adds to the numbers.

  4. Blogger Serendipity | 11:40 PM |  

    Could the list have to do with US measuring a whole continent, versus only one itty bitty country?

  5. Blogger Jennifer | 9:08 AM |  

    No, because it isn't the overall number of deaths, it's the percentage of deaths.

    For instance, 4 out of 1000 or 6 out of 1000... When you deal with percentages, it doesn't matter that one country is larger than another.

  6. Blogger Chris | 8:05 AM |  

    I wonder if we have more premature births (possibly due to so many fertility drug induced multiples?). I think maybe because we have so many super premies that maybe that causes our infant mortality to rise. At any rate, I have to agree that we have too much intervention in our births.

  7. Blogger Mommy Lynda | 10:21 PM |  

    I think what most people are not thinking about are the hospital's procedures harming healthy births. They should not interfere at all and let the body do what it's suppose to do. The "measurement" is the same across the board. This study used the same standards for all countries.

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