American babies are 76 percent more likely to die in their first year than babies in other rich countries

By Ronald Horvath | Jan 10, 2018

"American babies are 76 percent more likely to die before they turn a year old than babies in other rich countries, and American children who survive infancy are 57 percent more likely to die before adulthood, according to a sobering new study published in the journal Health Affairs.

Comparing the United States to 19 other wealthy democracies in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the study found if the United States had simply kept pace with average childhood mortality rates in those countries, 600,000 young lives could have been saved since 1961. That amounts to roughly 20,000 dead children and teens each year.

...  in the 1960s the United States had significantly lower child mortality rates than the other rich countries included in the study. But starting in the 1970s, that changed.

Among infants, that shift was driven primarily by changes in our premature birthrate (babies born before full gestational age), which is the highest in the developed world. Our rate of “extreme” prematurity — babies born before 25 weeks — is three times higher than the OECD average.

Among older children, the United Stands stands out on our rate of deaths by injury. In particular, Americans teens age 15 to 19 are 82 times more likely than teens in other rich countries to die of a gun homicide. Among black American adolescents, gun homicides are the leading cause of death in the United States.

The root cause of all these problems is well understood: “Persistently high poverty rates, poor educational outcomes, and a relatively weak social safety net have made the U.S. the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into,” the study, led by Ashish Thakrar, an internal medicine resident at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, concludes."

By Christopher Ingraham

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