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Infant-mortality myths
OC Register ^ | March 16th 2005 | Michael Arnold Glueckand Robert J. Cihak

Posted on 09/10/2009 4:22:52 AM PDT by Halfmanhalfamazing

Statistics, even at their best, don't tell a whole story. A variety of people employ medical statistics dubiously to push pet causes.

A perfect example: infant mortality statistics. The officially reported U.S. infant mortality rate has been indisputably high compared with similarly industrialized countries since at least the 1920s.

That fact has led to public health officials in the U.S. to conclude the rates are "caused" by poorly distributed health care resources and can be "solved" with a socialized, government-run health care system.

However, there's a basic problem with the numbers: Different countries count differently.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) definition, all babies showing any signs of life - such as muscle activity, a gasp for breath or a heartbeat - should be counted as a live birth. The U.S. strictly follows this definition. But many other countries do not.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: healthcare; infantmortality; liberalism; lies; mortality; myth; myths; socializedmedicine; who
Upon posting this, I came to realize that there may be many around who don't realize this talking point doesn't carry any water. So I figured it may be useful to revisit this for educational purposes.
1 posted on 09/10/2009 4:22:53 AM PDT by Halfmanhalfamazing
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To: Halfmanhalfamazing

Good post. The canard that the US has high infant mortality get trotted out every time that the Left wants to bash American health care.

2 posted on 09/10/2009 4:27:57 AM PDT by Rockingham
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To: Halfmanhalfamazing

Upon seeing the news that the OC Register is in bankruptcy, perhaps it might be a good idea to preserve the article in case they disappear. Here’s the rest:

Switzerland doesn’t count the death of very small babies, less than 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) in length, as a live birth, according to Nicholas Eberstadt, a former visiting fellow at Harvard’s Center for Population and Developmental Studies. So comparing the 1998 infant mortality rates for Switzerland and the U.S. (4.8 and 7.2,respectively, per 1,000 live births) is comparing apples and oranges.

In other countries, such as Italy, definitions vary depending on where you are in the country.

Eberstadt notes “underreporting also seems apparent in the proportion of infant deaths different countries report for the first 24 hours after birth. In Australia, Canada and the United States, over one-third of all infant deaths are reported to take place in the first day.”

In contrast, “Less than one-sixth of France’s infant deaths are reported to occur in the first day of life. In Hong Kong, such deaths account for only one-twenty-fifth of all infant deaths.”

As UNICEF has noted, “Under the Soviet-era definition ... infants who are born at less than 28 weeks, weighing less than 1,000 grams [35.3 ounces] or measuring less than 35 centimeters [13.8 inches] are not counted as live births if they die within seven days. This Soviet definition still predominates in many [formerly Soviet] countries. ... The communist system stressed the need to keep infant mortality low, and hospitals and medical staff faced penalties if they reported increases. As a result, they sometimes reported the deaths of babies in their care as miscarriages or stillbirths.”

Since the United States generally uses the WHO definition of live birth, in their 2004 book “Lives at Risk,” economist John Goodman and his colleagues conclude, “Taking into account such data-reporting differences, the rates of low- birth-weight babies born in America are about the same as other developed countries” in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Likewise, infant mortality rates, adjusted for the distribution of newborns by weight, are about the same.

American advances in medical treatment now make it possible to save babies who would have surely died only a few decades ago. Until recently, very low birth-weight babies - less than 3 pounds - almost always died. Now, some of these babies survive. Whilesuch vulnerable babies may live with advanced medical assistance and technology, low birth-weight babies (weighing less than 5.5 pounds) recently had an infant mortality rate 20 times higher than heavier babies, according to WHO. Ironically, U.S. doctors’ ability to save babies’ lives causes higher infant mortality numbers here than would be the case with less advanced treatment.

Because of varying standards, international comparisons of infant mortality rates are improperly used to create myths about how the United States should allocate local or national resources.

If we want to lower our infant mortality rate so it compares better with that of other countries, maybe we should align our rules with theirs to better determine the actual extent of the alleged “problem.”

3 posted on 09/10/2009 4:34:38 AM PDT by Halfmanhalfamazing ( Socialized medicine is inhumane)
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To: Halfmanhalfamazing
Almost all U.S. infant mortality cases occur within the Medicaid population, which has access to goveernment run health care. In fact, the expansion of Medicaid in South Carolina has reulted in no improvement in outcome when assessing measures like low birth weight, prematurity, hospital length of stay, etc.

Our findings confirm that legislation to expand Medicaid coverage led to substantial increases in the proportion of pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid in the two study States; however, the effects on access to care and health outcomes in our study were inconsistent. In South Carolina the expansion of Medicaid was associated with a small improvement in timely initiation of prenatal care but no apparent improvement in the outcomes of care."

4 posted on 09/10/2009 4:58:04 AM PDT by SC DOC
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This info could help explain why the international statistics on life expectancy usually show the USA quite a way down from the top on the list of countries.

(I believe any competent demographer will tell you that statistics on “life expectancy at birth” are heavily biased by infant mortality rates.)

5 posted on 09/10/2009 5:42:38 AM PDT by Hawthorn
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To: Hawthorn

Anyone explore the racial component?

6 posted on 09/10/2009 6:25:42 AM PDT by aumrl (JUST ASKING - THAT'S ALL)
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Almost all U.S. infant mortality cases occur within the Medicaid population...

While I may tend to believe your stat, can you point me to some statistical site that supports your statement?

7 posted on 09/10/2009 6:40:02 AM PDT by Sgt_Schultze (Si vis pacem, para bellum)
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To: Rockingham

Count in abortion as a primary cause of infant mortality, and it becomes minority genocide!

8 posted on 09/10/2009 6:40:19 AM PDT by JimRed ("Hey, hey, Teddy K., hot enough down there today?" TERM LIMITS, NOW AND FOREVER!)
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To: JimRed

Abortion is also associated with low birth weight and premature birth, both of which impair infant health and increase mortality.

9 posted on 09/10/2009 6:47:13 AM PDT by Rockingham
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To: Sgt_Schultze
The contributors to infant mortality are well known. Low birth weight, poverty, poor diet, smoking, teen pregnancy, etc. This data from Kansas is not an exhaustive comparison of Medicaid vs. Non-Medicaid infant mortality, but does bring up some important diferences that can be extrapolated.

Birth Risk Factors

10 posted on 09/10/2009 8:21:45 AM PDT by SC DOC
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To: Halfmanhalfamazing

Thank you for this.

11 posted on 10/11/2009 7:27:15 PM PDT by Sister_T
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