US Falls Behind Other Wealthy Countries in Infant Mortality Rates. Really?

So Common Dreams is reporting on the dismal failure of the U.S. health care system in preventing the death of infants.

A report by the United Nations’ children’s rights agency found that the United States’ infant mortality rate is below average for high-income countries, and is only slightly lower than that of less economically-stable countries including Ukraine and Sri Lanka.

Source: US Falls Behind Other Wealthy Countries in Infant Mortality Rates

How dismal is this failure, though? Howard Herrell, MD, FACOG, has a pretty good breakdown of how infant deaths are categorized and he explains it like this:

Most developed countries don’t count very low birth weight babies against their Neonatal or Infant Mortality rates (considering them miscarriages instead). For example, Germany, Austria, and Canada ignore infants born weighing less than 500 grams, but we do not in the US. Mortality in this group of small babies approaches 90%. Switzerland some other European countries don’t count births of babies under 30 cm (or about 12 inches) in the Neonatal Mortality category; these types of inconsistencies, poor data collection, and under-reporting abound all over the world and conspire to make even Russia look like it has better Infant Mortality than the United States. Walker Ray summarizes some of these points in this piece.

Source: Child Mortality

Maybe we actually should be doing better than those other countries even with the type of bias and cheating explained by Dr. Herrell but the point is that the numbers being used aren’t accurate or we aren’t comparing apples and oranges.

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