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US chalks up more first-day newborn deaths than rest of industrialized world combined – report

Published time: May 07, 2013 17:01
Edited time: May 08, 2013 09:56
Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Reuters/Lucas Jackson

The number of babies dying in their first day of life remains significantly higher in the United States than 33 other leading industrialized nations combined, an annual report compiled by Save the Children reveals.

The London-based charity's "State of the World's Mothers" compiled a list of birth-day death rates for 176 countries, as well as information on maternal health, education and women's income and political status.

While only one percent of the world’s more than one-million first-day deaths occur in the developed world, the US far outpaces its industrialized peers in newborn deaths.

The report determines that an estimated 11,300 babies die each year in the United States on the day they are born, “50 percent more first-day deaths than all other industrialized combined.”

“When first-day deaths in the United State are compared to those in the 27 countries making up the European Union, the findings show that European Union countries, taken together, have 1 million more births each year (4.3 million vs. 5.3 million, respectively) but only about half as many first-day deaths as the United States (11,300 in the US vs. 5,800 in EU member countries),” the report claims.

It continues that among 33 other industrialized countries where data was available, there was a combined total of 7,500 first-day deaths each year.

“The US represents 31 percent of the population in these 34 industrialized countries and 38 percent of the annual live births, but it has 60 percent of all first-day deaths,” the report continues. In some US counties, the first-day death rates are comparable to those in developing countries.

The disparity is attributed to the US pre-term birth rate, which is reportedly the second-highest in the industrialized world behind Cyprus and the sixth highest worldwide (following India, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and Indonesia.)

The US has over half a million preterm births each year, and complications from premature births are the cause of more than 35 per cent of newborn deaths in the country.

 The US also has the highest adolescent birth rate of any industrialized country, with teen mothers tending to be poorer, less educated and the recipients of less pre-natal care. The report also notes poverty, racism and stress as likely contributing factors to first-day deaths in the US, as well as other industrialized states.

Worldwide the US comes in 30th place in terms of the overall assessment of mothers’ and children’s well-being. Finland meanwhile, came in first place, with its Nordic neighbors filling out the top 5.

Niger was found the be the worst place in the world to be a mother, with sub-Saharan Africa occupying the bottom ten slots for the first time in the reports 14-year history. The charity noted lack of nutrition as a key factor in the high mother and infant mortality rates in the region.

India, however, by far outpaced the world in the total number of babies dying within 24 hours of being born. The country registers over 300,000 such deaths per year – 29 percent of all newborn deaths worldwide. Other populous Asian states including China, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh were among the top ten states with the highest number of first day deaths.