Advertisement

American Babies Are Less Likely to Survive Their First Year Than Babies in Other Rich Countries

American Babies Are Less Likely to Survive Their First Year Than Babies in Other Rich Countries
From TIME - January 9, 2018

Babies born in America are less likely to reach their first birthday than babies born in other wealthy countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a new study found. While infant mortality rates have declined across the OECD since 1960, including in America, the U.S. has failed to keep pace with its high-income peers, according to a report published in the journal Health Affairs.

Compared to 19 similar OECD countries, U.S. babies were three times more likely to die from extreme immaturity and 2.3 times more likely to experience sudden infant death syndrome between 2001 and 2010, the most recent years for which comparable data is available across all the countries. If the U.S. had kept pace with the OECDs overall decline in infant mortality since 1960, that would have resulted in about 300,000 fewer infant deaths in America over the course of 50 years, the report found.

The reasons the U.S. has fallen behind include higher poverty rates relative to other developed countries and a relatively weak social safety net, says lead author Ashish Thakrar, medical resident at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System.

The poorer children are, the worse their health outcomes are, says Thakrar, whose team found that poverty among U.S. children has been higher than in the 19 comparable OECD countries since the mid 1980s.

Premature delivery and low birthweight have been consistently associated with poverty, which affects over 20% of U.S. children, the second highest percent among 35 developed nations, according to a 2013 United Nations Childrens Fund report.

Thakrars team used membership in the OECD as a proxy for similar nations to the U.S., and narrowed the group to 19 members for which 50 years of high-quality data was available, known as the OECD19.

Advertisement

Continue reading at TIME »