Saturday, October 18, 2008

No. 29

This sucks:

A report issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents how the infant mortality rate in the United States is growing in relation to other countries. The study, “Recent Trends in Infant Mortality in the United States,” found that at least 28 other countries now have lower death rates for infants in the first year of life.

The US’s relative position has declined steadily. In 1960, it had the 12th lowest infant mortality rate, but by 1990 had dropped to 23rd place, and by 2004—the latest year of the CDC’s comparative world figures on living standards—the US ranked 29th. The most recent study, published in July and titled “The Measure of America,” estimated that the US is now in 34th place.

The CDC report found that there was no improvement in the incidence of US infant deaths between 2000 and 2005, a “plateau in the US infant mortality rate represent[ing] the first period of sustained lack of decline in the US infant mortality rate since the 1950s.” This “has generated concern among researchers and policy makers,” the report noted.

For the year 2000, the infant mortality rate was 6.89 per 1,000, a rate that remained stagnant for five years before declining slightly to 6.71 between 2005 and 2006.

The CDC noted: “The impact of child mortality is considerable: there are more than 28,000 deaths to children under 1 year of age each year in the United States.”

Several countries in Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Finland) and East Asia (Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore) have an infant mortality rate below 3.5, almost half the US rate. The CDC’s 2004 rankings placed the US in a tie with Poland and Slovakia, and only marginally ahead of Puerto Rico and Chile. The US was behind every developed country in North America, Western Europe, and Australasia, as well as Cuba, Hungary, Israel, and the Czech Republic.

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