Thursday, May 9, 2013

Report: More US Babies Die On First Day Than In 68 Countries

A recent UNICEF study ranked the United States 34th out of 35 developed countries in terms of child poverty. Now a Save the Children report finds that more U.S. babies die on their first day than in 68 other countries. In addition, more die on their first day than in any other industrialized country. This certainly casts doubt on the conservative argument that we have "the best health care in the world." Save the Children states that politics and culture contribute to this poor record:

The U.S. is a worse place for newborns than 68 other countries, including Egypt, Turkey and Peru, according to a report released Tuesday by Save the Children.

...[From the report:] “The United States has the highest first-day death rate in the industrialized world. An estimated 11,300 newborn babies die each year in the United States on the day they are born. This is 50 percent more first-day deaths than all other industrialized countries combined.”

...Save the Children says it’s not precisely clear why the United States does so poorly in protecting newborns, but says politics and culture both play a role.

...“Poverty, racism and stress are likely to be important contributing factors to first-day deaths in the United States and other industrialized countries.”

...“High-quality care before, during and after pregnancy (including home visits by nurses or community health workers if appropriate) and access to the appropriate level of care at the time of delivery can result in healthier mothers giving birth to healthier babies,” the report says. Such home visits are common in Europe, but very unusual in the United States.

The report also strongly links a country’s politics to its newborn death rate. “Women hold only 18 percent of seats in the United States Congress,” the report says. “Sixteen countries have more than double this percentage of seats occupied by women. In Finland and Sweden, for example, women hold 43 and 45 percent of parliamentary seats, respectively.”

Finland and Sweden have the lowest rates of newborn deaths in the world.

Image: Mother with a newborn baby in Ethiopia, NBC News.

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