More US Babies Die on Their First Day Than in 68 Other Countries, Report Shows

The above headline comes from an NBC News story on May 7, 2013. The story, and several more in other news outlets, is based on a report released April 30, 2013 titled “Surviving the First Day”, by the organization, Save the Children. The study shows that the United States ranks 68th in the world for infant survival beyond the first day. This places the US last among industrialized nations, and behind such countries as Cuba, Egypt and Mexico.

The report shows that in the US three babies die in their first day for every 1000 born. Page 55 of the report states it clearly by saying, “The United States has the highest first-day death rate in the industrialized world. An estimated 11,300 newborn babies die each year in the United States on the day they are born. This is 50 percent more first-day deaths than all other industrialized countries combined.”

The US spends more on healthcare than any other nation. The US also uses a very high rate of medical intervention in child birth with a national cesarean birth rate of over 32 percent. In some hospitals the cesarean rate is almost 70 percent.

An article in Consumer News on May 8, 2013 questions medical intervention in childbirth in the US. The article starts off by saying, “Pregnant women often undergo medical procedures and invasive interventions, including induced labors and cesarean sections, without fully understanding the risks or being involved in making decisions about their care.”

According to the findings of a major new survey conducted by Childbirth Connection, a nonprofit organization that focuses on maternity care, many procedures are unnecessary and carry risks the expecting mother may not be aware of. Maureen Corry, M.P.H., executive director of Childbirth Connection stated, “Our survey suggests that pregnant women need to take a more active role to make sure they get the care that is best for themselves and their babies. They need access to trustworthy information about the benefits and harms of interventions, to educate themselves, and be their own advocate.”

The Surviving the First Day report notes that the US has a very high rate of premature births, which they feel contributes to the high death rate. The report notes, “Many babies in the United States are born too early. The U.S. preterm birth rate (1 in 8 births) is one of the highest in the industrialized world (second only to Cyprus). In fact, 130 countries from all across the world have lower preterm birth rates than the United States. The U.S. prematurity rate is twice that of Finland, Japan, Norway and Sweden. The United States has over half a million preterm births each year – the sixth largest number in the world (after India, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and Indonesia).” The report continues, “According to the latest estimates, complications of preterm birth are the direct cause of 35 percent of all newborn deaths in the U.S., making preterm birth the number one killer of newborns.”

The report also points out that the US has a high rate of adolescents giving birth. “The United States also has the highest adolescent birth rate of any industrialized country. Teenage mothers in the U.S. tend to be poorer, less educated, and receive less prenatal care than older mothers.”

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