Healthify Blog

A Closer Look at America's Infant Mortality Rate

U.S. Ranks 26th in Infant Mortality Rate

The U.S. ranks behind 25 other industrialized nations when it comes to how well it keeps babies alive, the New York Times recently reported.
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The U.S. infant mortality rate is 4.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, which is higher than most European countries and about twice the rates for Finland, Sweden and Denmark, according to a 2014 CDC report.
 
(The 4.2 figure excludes babies born at less than 24 weeks of gestation to ensure international comparability, the CDC noted in its report.)
 
In the NYT section "The Upshot," Aaron E. Carroll, professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, discussed new research that directs attention to what happens after birth, rather than before, as a driver of the country's infant mortality rate.
 
Carroll cited a May 2016 paper published in the American Economic Journal that seems to have found an important distinction: the U.S. has similar mortality rates to other nations for infants less than one month old but higher mortality rates for infants between one to 12 months of age. 
 
The researchers — Alice Chen, Emily Oster and Heidi Williams behind the paper found that the latter category was "driven by poor birth outcomes among lower socioeconomic status individuals."
 
The question of how exactly to reduce the mortality rate for infants between one to 12 months of age and how to do that for poor women is something Carroll mostly leaves up in the air.
 
He does note, though, that he agrees with researchers' suggestion that programs of home nursing visits should be considered to reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and accidents. 
 
Healthify's two cents on this is that improving the health of poor women which goes hand in hand with meeting their basic social needs such as food, housing and a clean environment will likely improve the mortality rate among their infants.
 
By providing the technology to efficiently connect such women and other underserved people to social programs that can meet their basic needs, Healthify aims to help them get on the path toward better health.
 
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Image Source: Centers for Disease Control
Topics: health disparities public health