Infant Mortality in the US

by Harry on March 4, 2005

Bill Gardner notes an uptick in infant mortality in the US, and links to the National Center for Health Statistics report which tries to explain it. As Bill points out, undertsanding a slight rise in the rate is all very interesting, but not to the point when we know what can be done to lower the rate, even if what we know doesn’t address the sudden (and slight) increase. Here are his suggestions:

bq. There is good evidence that there is substantial variation in the quality of neonatal care. Standardizing care on the practice of the best units might reduce the infant mortality rate.

bq. Additional evidence that the rate could be improved comes from international comparisons of infant mortality rates, which show that the US has twice the infant mortality rate of (say) Sweden or Japan. There are controversies about how infant mortality is measured in different nations. I have not seen a demonstration that adjustment for reporting differences between Sweden and the US (if indeed there are any) will make the gap disappear. Finally, there is much evidence that economic inequality is associated with poor public health, including adverse infant mortality. Something to think about as we continue to cut the safety net.

(Go to Bill’s place to comment).