Infant Mortality–Babies Just Like Trig

When it’s a fouled-up health care ‘system’ the blame is dispersed. God takes them. Forty-one nations have better infant survival than the United States, for all the money we spend, for all our claims to have the best health care in the world.

Here’s a link to the ratings of 226 nations according to 2006 estimates by the CIA. Another set of stats comes from the United Nations by way of Wikipedia.

The worst is Angola, with over 185 deaths per 1,000, a statistic that hides terrible grief. Nearly 2 in 10 infants dying in their first year. Things are much better in the United States, our number is 6.43. But in a population of over 300 million that is a national shame. Canada, the UK, Italy, the Czech Republic, Cuba and Aruba do better. Singapore is the best, with infant mortality of 2.29 per 1,000.

I don’t have stats on infant health, but consider this. Death is the worst, most extreme outcome. For every baby that dies, how many are cheated out of the health and future they should, could have had if their mothers had pre-natal care, if every baby had first-rate pediatric care?

It’s not that there aren’t programs intended to deliver these services, but our fragmented, money-driven system impedes patient care. And then we have inexplicable decisions like Governor Carcieri’s attempt to cut 28 pregnant women off state insurance.

What our Governor means by ‘pro-life’, what Sarah Palin means, apparently doesn’t have anything to do with preventing suffering and death of young and old who could not get basic health care in the richest country in the world.

8 thoughts on “Infant Mortality–Babies Just Like Trig

  1. Tell me about it. It’s like the problem Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who opposes abortion, is facing. The righties there are apparently whining that because he supports contraception, he’s NOT REALLY pro-life.
    Carcieri and Palin espouse the classic “life begins at conception and ends at birth” mentality.

  2. Rhody-there you go again.I am pro-life and VERY pro birth control,and sex education at an age appropriate time.
    You get real tiresome trying to constantly smear pro-lifers as uninterested in babies after they’re born.
    No child in the US should be denied health care.It’s a good use of my taxes.A LOT BETTER thah Nancy Pelosi’s luxury jet.
    I once rode tourist class with Pat Leahy(he was a few seats away) from Philadelphia to Providence(I think he was going onward),so I don’t smear all liberal Democrats with the same brush.
    Nancy-how much infant mortality in the US is due to prenatal drug/alcohol use and/or smoking?Has anyone done a serious study?

  3. Just wish some of these rageaholics who seize the mike at town halls to get their love from Billo, Rush and Sean agreed with you that children shouldn’t be denied health care. Unfortunately, I don’t think they do.

    1. The only Fox “pundit”or whatever they’re called I watch when I get a chance is Neil Cavuto.He runs a non-screaming,thoughtful show.

  4. Joe, I’ve seen the argument the the US has a high infant mortality rate because of our bad, drug and alcohol abusing women. But how about the UK? Why are they doing better?
    Drug and alcohol abuse are problems that can be addressed by health care providers, if help is available. Not every women with problems is willing to change, but those who are should have better access.

  5. I didn’t characterize the women Nancy-why did you couch your comment like I did?I was addressing a real problem,not making a political statement.
    My daughter was a special ed teacher and dealt with the end result of fetal alcohol syndrome and a similar condition brought about by using certain drugs.She mentioned it frequently enough that it must be a real issue.She had excellent training and experience in her field.It was still anecdotal yes,but valid nonetheless.
    Is it any coincidence that RI has the highest percentage of special ed students and the highest incidence of illicit drug use?Maybe,but it’s a good question.
    My granddaughter’s little cousin has a lot of problems both physically and behaviorally and his mother,who was 18 when he was born,frequently used alcohol and marijuana while she was pregnant.She also smoked tobacco heavily.The poor little guy seems to be constantly unhappy and enraged.It’s not fair to a child to be saddled with that.
    Not everything has to be a feminist issue,Nancy.

  6. Numbers are strange things and frequently there is much behind the totals that are significant but frequently ignored. Infant mortality statistics can be as misleading and as emotionally charged as war death reporting for example. Of course when our soldiers are killed or wounded we feel all the angst that would be expected and some of us with direct involvement with wars past and present are likely to feel it more. Thus when we learn 5,000 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last seven years, we are upset and correctly so. But when we learn that 48,000 Americans die each year in vehicle accidents, almost 450,000 over the last seven years, we are generally less emotional or angry.

    So it is with infant mortality statistics. There is more there than meets the eye, especially in the United States. In one sense, a statistical sense, we are not one nation, as is Angola or Cuba or Iceland or Sweden. We are many nations statistically at all levels. For example, infant mortality in the U.S. is highest for Black Americans 13.6 per 1000 in 2004 as compared to 5.66 for White Americans, 4.55 for Cuban Americans, 4.67 for Asian Americans. Oddly, the rate was 17.57 for Black Americans in Wisconsin but only 8.57 for those in Minnesota, the next state over. Why? One may suppose that most Wisconsin Blacks live in Milwaukee, a declining city with typical urban decay issues. In Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul has a smaller number of Black Americans in a more affluent environment.

    Obviously socio-economic issues enter the picture. The very high teen pregnancy rates in some populations, lack of prenatal care either because of a low education base, understanding the need for care, or peer pressure, or drug use, or whatever, all lead to low birth weights and high pre-term losses of the fetus or infants.

    Other nations are certainly more homogeneous and usually much smaller populations. Comparing Finland to the U.s. makes no sense. In other cases there is of course the issue of appropriate data tracking and accumulation. The low Cuban numbers seem odd and may well be false. Historically, most dictatorships determine the numbers released, since statistics are seen as political tools rather than just data keeping. It is interesting to compare the “reported” and “official” Cuban numbers with the numbers from the Cuban American community, 4.55 per 1000, better than the mainline “White American” numbers, of 5.66 per 1000.

    Of course much remains to be done, but it may well be that real improvement will only come the hard way, by increased education, fewer teen pregnancies, less influence of peer pressure for babies to have babies, etc. In a heterogeneous population such as the U.S., the long term solution could work; just tossing more money at a poorly understood problem will almost cetainly not work.

  7. Call me cynical, but I would put it out that not having children does not make you a failure in life. Aunts and Uncles are often fine influences in a child’s life. If you do want to have children, expect that you will be for your child, your child does not exist for you. You are just their launch pad.
    It’s not immoral to teach young people to think ahead, plan, and not have children until they are ready to put their children’s interests first.

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