Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Infant Mortality in the United States

The CDC just released data from the United States’ Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set and the European Perinatal Health Report.

Their findings? In 2005, the latest year that the international ranking is available for, the United States ranked 30th in the world in infant mortality, behind most European countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and Israel. This in spite of the fact that we spend more than any other of these countries on medical care and equipment, and have the most sophisticated facilities.

  • Infant mortality rates for preterm (less than 37 weeks of gestation) infants are lower in the United States than in most European countries; however, infant mortality rates for infants born at 37 weeks of gestation or more are higher in the United States than in most European countries. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that 1 in 3 children are born via Cesarean in this country, and that almost all "natural" labors are "managed" with induction, epidurals, pitocin, etc. These procedures are not just unnatural, but also place great stress on both the mother's and the baby's body, and endanger their wellbeing and obviously also their lives.
  • One in 8 births in the United States were born preterm, compared with 1 in 18 births in Ireland and Finland. There are many underlying causes of prematurity, some of which are preventable and some of which aren't. One major cause is preeclampsia (also called toxemia), which is almost 100% preventable and in most cases reversible through following a healthy diet that included plenty of protein. I am a very strong believer in following the Brewer Pregnancy Diet.
  • If the United States had Sweden’s distribution of births by gestational age, nearly 8,000 infant deaths would be averted each year and the U.S. infant mortality rate would be one-third lower.
I mean, I have been to the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, and their hospitals are somewhat like you would expect to find in Mexico. Even Cuba ranks better than the US. The more Western countries on the list that I have been to (ten of them) have newer hospitals and better equipment (although Britain, who has had socialized health care for the longest, is the worst of these by far), but the fanciest and most modern hospitals I have ever seen are those in the United States. Most maternity wards are made to look like a hotel, but looks can be deceiving.

The best gift any expectant mom can give her child is that of a natural, unmedicated birth that is allowed to progress in its own timing. Midwife-attended home birth is the safest and most satisfying option for low-risk pregnancies.


  1. I watched a news show (20/20? Dateline? I can't remember) sometime last year about infant mortality rates in the United States. A large amount of them are due to some moms getting no prenatal care whatsoever.


    C-sections are actually more dangerous for the mom than the baby.

    There was a study published last year that taking prenatal vitamins for a year prior to a pregnancy lowers the risk of premature births.

    So I would offer that the best gift an expectant mom can give her baby is to get regular pre-natal care and take care of herself during the pregnancy (which in itself lowers the chance of c-section).

  2. I do agree that a natural birth, unmedicated is best if the Mother is able to do so. In my case I was not able to do that with either of my chidlren they were both delieverd by C-Section.

  3. Thought you might appreciate this. Don't know if you read , but there was a really good one on there a few days ago:

    OB says to a mother, "Either we give you pitocin or we give you a C-section." The dad says, "It's like they think women are fruit... you're either pitted or sectioned!"

    Cracked me up, thought you would get a kick out of it too.

  4. What is your opinion about dental care for yourself and your children?

  5. Thank you so much for your insight. I am looking forward to having a home birth and avoid an unnecessary c-section caused by the doctor's philosophies.

  6. ITA with you on this post! If you have a moment please pray for my current pregnancy, as I'm having low fluid issues, and might be risked out of having a homebirth.. This is my 6th child, and I pray it's my 2nd homebirth... Baby looks heathly and is growing.. they have no idea why I have low fluid, we are going for another ultrasound next week (I'll be 26 weeks) Please pray fluid levels are up and all is fine!!


  7. Keep in mind other countries have criteria a baby must meet before it's considered "born" or "alive" that the USA does not have. For example, in many coutries, the baby must be greater than 24 weeks gestation, at least 10 inches long, or at least 1 lb or it's considered a miscarriage and is not counted as an infant death. The US, however, counts ALL live births, no matter what the age, weight, or length of the baby. Of course, the earlier the baby is born, the less likey it is to survive... hence the highter infant mortality rate. In the US we also have a lot of infertility technology that is not widely available in other countries, which results in conceptions that would not otherwise have occurred and a highter rate of prematurity (and mortality). In many ways, comparing the infant mortality rate of US infants with the rest of the world is like comparing apples and oranges. The criteria of what constitutes a "baby" and what constitutes a "live birth" is not the same, so the results of such comparisons are unreliable.

  8. Here is what David Stewart says, in his book "The Five Standards for Safe Childbearing"....
    "Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) The number of deaths during the first year of life (365 days) per 1000 live births.
    Sources of ambiguity: Next to PNMR, IMR is the most precisely defined of the birth-related vital statistics, which is why it has been the parameter most often chosen by which to compare countries internationally. There is some disagreement as to whether it should only include deaths up to the end of the first year (ie through the 364the day, but not the 365th, or if it should include the 365th day). This is a trivial point and would scarcely make a difference. The only serious source of ambiguity is in the matter by which the term "live birth" is defined in various countries. In some countries, such as France, a baby that dies before its "live birth" has been officially recorded is considered as a fetal death or stillbirth. The IMR for such countries would then appear lower than it was in reality. In the United States, as in virtually all of the other industrialized countries, a baby born with signs of life is considered a live birth even if it dies and its birth certificate is completed after its death."

    So being the 41st country in the world, in terms of our IMR is STILL a very bad reflection on the state of mainstream obstetrics in our country.

    Here is another intersting quote from David Stewart (one of the founders of NAPSAC)....

    "The international standing of the U.S. [in terms of infant mortality rates] did not really begin to fall until the mid-1950s. This correlates perfectly with the founding of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) in 1951. ACOG is a trade union representing the financial and professional interests of obstetricians who has sought to secure a monopoly in pregnancy and childbirth services. Prior to ACOG, the U.S. always ranked in 10th place or better. Since the mid-1950s the U.S. has consistently ranked below 12th place and hasn't been above 16th place since 1975. The relative standing of the U.S. continues to decline
    even to the present."
    (Stewart, David, International Infant Mortality Rates
    --U.S. in 22nd Place,
    NAPSAC News, Fall-Winter, 1993, p.38)

    Now as of 2008, 15 years later, the U.S. is in 42nd place.



Your KINDLY WORDED, constructive comments are welcome, whether or not they express a differing opinion. All others will be deleted without second thought.