US health stat

Another major gauge of health is infant mortality. As the report’s authors point out, the U.S. has the highest infant-mortality rate among high-income countries. Again, this isn’t a good indicator of the quality of the American health-care system. The elevated U.S. rate is a function of both the technological advancement of American hospitals and discrepancies in how different countries define a live birth.

Doctors in the U.S. are much more aggressive than foreign counterparts about trying to save premature babies. Thousands of babies that would have been declared stillborn in other countries and never given a chance at life are saved in the U.S. As a result, the percentage of preterm births in America is exceptionally high—65% higher than in Britain, and about double the rates in Finland and Greece.

Unfortunately, some of the premature babies that American hospitals try to save don’t make it. Their deaths inflate the overall infant mortality rate. But most premature babies are saved, largely because America’s medical research community is exceptionally innovative. There’s a laundry list of modern medical advancements used to treat a premature baby: suction devices to clear the baby’s mouth and lungs of amniotic fluid, miniature catheters to deliver vital fluids and medications, and emergency incubators equipped with sophisticated temperature-regulation technologies.

Thanks to such technologies, the U.S. neonatal mortality rate has dropped to just 5% today from 95% in the 1960s.

Source.

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49 Responses to US health stat

  1. This is interesting and all that but what would the figure be compared to other countries if the definition was standardised. Looking at life expectancy the US does not do so well and I doubt that this infant number has scewed it that much. So all I can take from this is that there are lies, dam lies and statistics. Also can take from it that some US hospitals offer very good premature birth care.

  2. Grey

    If you want a better understanding of the issue has it is understood by epidemiologists rather than agit-prop from the Pacific Research Institute, try the CDC
    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db23.htm

    Also bear in mind that there are strong correlations between pre term births and the health of the mother. So better access to primary care generally and ante-natal care in particular would go a long way to improving the incidence of pre-term delivery and therefore infant mortality in the US.

    I salute Obamacare as a brave step towards building a healthy generation of young Americans go forwards.

  3. JamesK

    Please please Sinc, don’t confuse shit-fer-brains USA-hating leftists like liar-steve® or Jarrah.

  4. JamesK

    Or real dumb-fucks like Grey

  5. John Mc

    Cuba has non-optional abortions for pregnancies that are considered high risk. It helps their infant mortality rates look good.

  6. Infidel Tiger

    I salute Obamacare as a brave step towards building a healthy generation of young Americans go forwards.

    Once Obamacare is up and running US doctors won’t fuck around trying to save any kiddies who might prove difficult. Waste of time. Expect the US infant mortality rate to get back on a more acceptable Cuban level.

  7. John Mc

    Obamacare will fail dismally everywhere it’s enforced. Fortunately lots of US states won’t implement it, legal challenges will put lots of holes in it, the next administration may repeal it, and the American people are smart and capable enough to find a way around it.

  8. .

    Doctors in the U.S. are much more aggressive than foreign counterparts about trying to save premature babies. Thousands of babies that would have been declared stillborn in other countries and never given a chance at life are saved in the U.S. As a result, the percentage of preterm births in America is exceptionally high—65% higher than in Britain, and about double the rates in Finland and Greece.

    Yeah Grey, those bastard Americans and their warped conservative and libertarian think tanks.

    Damn them all to hell.

  9. Annabelle

    Sovietized health care…what could possibly go wrong?

  10. Sinclair, These look like ridiculously high numbers (by a factor of 10). US neo-natal mortality according to the Institutes of Medicine is 6.7 per 1000 live births. That is, 0.67 percent. http://is.gd/zB12Ai

    The corresponding number for Australia (ABS) was 4 per 1000 for non-indigenous and (almost) 8 for indigenous Australians. http://is.gd/TBjgCE

    The main contributors to infant survival are (and have been since the 1850s) public health services and maternal education. Medicine makes a marginal contribution (even today).

    Best

    Peter

  11. JamesK

    Peter Gallagher the 504.8 deaths/100,00 population is age adjusted and from a single year – 2008.

    This data are from World Health Organization (2011). That’s 0.5% ie a miscalculated/typo in the WSJ which Sinc reproduced

    Your data is from OECD 2012 and is averaged over the years 2005-2009.

    The infant mortality rate for non-Hispanic black women was 2.4 times the rate for non-Hispanic whites.

    That disparity is only a relatively recently worsened so dramatically.

    In 1950s it was only approx 1.5 times higher

  12. JC

    This is great information to have. Thanks Sinc.

  13. JamesK

    The main contributors to infant survival are (and have been since the 1850s) public health services and maternal education

    And I’m not sure that statement is particularly illuminating Peter Gallagher:
    The Contribution of Preterm Birth to Infant Mortality Rates in the United States

    William M. Callaghan,
    Marian F. MacDorman,
    Sonja A. Rasmussen,
    Cheng Qin,
    and Eve M. Lackritz

    Pediatrics October 2006; 118:4 1566-1573

    CONCLUSIONS: On the basis of this evaluation, preterm birth is the most frequent cause of infant death in the United States, accounting for at least one third of infant deaths in 2002. The extreme prematurity of most of the infants and their short survival indicate that reducing infant mortality rates requires a comprehensive agenda to identify, to test, and to implement effective strategies for the prevention of preterm birth.

  14. Anthony

    I’m given to understand that a significant number of pre-term births are due to a viral infection of the mother and are largely avoidable, especially if there is relevant history. Any comments from those medically qualified?

  15. blind freddy

    Sinc
    Thanks for article—but it is claptrap.
    Australian neonatal care is as good as that claimed and yet the Americans lag.( exclude indigenous figures)
    Agree with JamesK , and yes Grey ( or at least their referrals).— the number of preterm births in the USA , is the problem.
    Grey — have you had a chance to peruse the Obamcare documents — not to worry , neither had anyone amongst the USA legislators—- will make our pinkbatts etc a tittle

  16. There’s something very iffy about that last sentence, unless you define “neonatal” to mean “premature”. Otherwise you have to believe that 95% of babies born in the US in the 1960s died.

    Grey, you read like you’re excreting other people’s talking points, rather than stating your own opinion. In this sense, you are very much the next Hammygar. Kindly FUCK OFF. And while we’re on the topic, Obamacare isn’t Medicare as the Australians understand it, and never will be.

  17. JamesK

    perturbed, the US infant mortality was approx ~15 per 1000 full term live births in 1960 versus about 2.5 now (5 overall with premies included).

    Nearly all severe premies died in 1960 versus approx ~ 17% now.

    Also independently infant mortality rates are much higher for teenage and older mothers – both much more common now.

  18. JC

    James

    Is there a comparison where stats are compared for say a mature woman and normalized for different approaches?

    I reckon that would be pretty revealing.

  19. JamesK

    Thanks for article—but it is claptrap.

    Not really.

    It incorrectly (obviously a typo) stated infant mortality rates as 5% and 95% respectively for the present and 1960 instead of 5 and 95 per thousand live births but otherwise it makes a perfectly salient points.

    The higher infant mortality is not a refection of the excellent US health care services.

    Furthermore 20 week ultrasound diagnosed congenital anomalies eg hole in the heart or cleft palate are routinely aborted in the UK and Europe but not nearly so often in the US.

  20. JamesK

    James

    Is there a comparison where stats are compared for say a mature woman and normalized for different approaches?

    I reckon that would be pretty revealing.

    Absolutely increased maternal age dramatically increases infant mortality stats.

    As does teenage mothers.

    For example 10% of 40 yo pregnant mums give birth to Down’s syndrome babies (c/f Sarah Palin)

  21. sdog

    The main contributors to infant survival are (and have been since the 1850s) public health services and maternal education.

    The problem though is no-one is comparing apples with apples.

    America tries to save a lot of babies that other countries wouldn’t bother with. “Thousands of babies that would have been declared stillborn in other countries and never given a chance at life are saved in the U.S.”

    When that fails, it’s counted as a “death”. Whereas if they didn’t even bother to try, it wouldn’t be.

    What you’re incentivizing is “Don’t even try. If you don’t try, you can’t lose.” The way to get the best stats would be to never offer any care to women with problem pregnancies, because if her baby is born dead then it’s not a black mark against your infant survival rate. It’s very Darwinian – only the very fittest babies from the very fittest mothers will be born alive. There’ll be a lot of dead babies, but a very high infant survival rate.

  22. sdog

    An earlier article:

    ——————-

    Gross differences in the fundamental definition of “live birth” invalidate comparisons of early neonatal death rates.

    The United States strictly adheres to the WHO definition of live birth (any infant “irrespective of the duration of the pregnancy, which . . . breathes or shows any other evidence of life . . . whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached”) and uses a strictly implemented linked birth and infant-death data set. On the contrary, many other nations, including highly developed countries in Western Europe, use far less strict definitions, all of which underreport the live births of more fragile infants who soon die. As a consequence, they falsely report more favorable neonatal- and infant-mortality rates.

    A 2006 report from WHO stated that “among developed countries, mortality rates may reflect differences in the definitions used for reporting births, such as cut-offs for registering live births and birth weight.” The Bulletin of WHO noted that “it has also been common practice in several countries (e.g. Belgium, France, Spain) to register as live births only those infants who survived for a specified period beyond birth”; those who did not survive were “completely ignored for registration purposes.” Since the U.S. counts as live births all babies who show “any evidence of life,” even the most premature and the smallest — the very babies who account for the majority of neonatal deaths — it necessarily has a higher neonatal-mortality rate than countries that do not.

  23. Anthony, swap ‘bacterial’ for ‘viral’ especially urinary tract infections, and you’re getting closer.

  24. JamesK (and others),

    Thank you. Interesting data and clarifications.

    I stand by my original observation (although it’s an arguable generalization, of course). I suppose if it leaves out anytihing it’s good old aggregate economic growth that lies just a bit further in the background. The ordinariness of the causes is the reason I find indigenous neo-natal mortality rate in Australia (mostly driven by the 35% or so of the indigenous population not in urban settlements) to be shameful.

    The paper to which JamesK points and the WSJ artilcle do not directly contradict this view: they show, rather, that medicine in the USA perversely contributes to a HIGHER neo-natal mortality (by promoting premature deliveries). Of course, it also produces more babies.

    Peter

  25. JamesK

    they show, rather, that medicine in the USA perversely contributes to a HIGHER neo-natal mortality (by promoting premature deliveries)

    Really?

    How egggsactly?

  26. medicine in the USA perversely contributes to a HIGHER neo-natal mortality (by promoting premature deliveries).

    No, you’re not getting it. It’s just that the US doesn’t cheat on its figures the way many other countries do.

    International comparisons of neonatal and infant mortality are invalid

    If the US waited a day or two to see whether a sickly baby would die, and then if it did die, called it a “still birth” rather than a born-alive infant who then died, they too could have the pretty numbers you all seem so enamored with.

  27. Dan

    I’m given to understand that a significant number of pre-term births are due to a viral infection of the mother and are largely avoidable, especially if there is relevant history. Any comments from those medically qualified?

    It contributes but isn’t a huge factor.

    As noted

  28. Dan

    I’m given to understand that a significant number of pre-term births are due to a viral infection of the mother and are largely avoidable, especially if there is relevant history. Any comments from those medically qualified?

    Yes but many causes…infection, inflammation, actually bad dental hygiene and bacterial infection is a significant cause too. Vascular disease too. Viral infections like rubella, measles are numerically more significant where vaccination is poor, of course.

    As noted above a main reason for the disparity, apart from attempts to save 24-week premmies, is just epidemiological definitions of what infant mortality consists of.

    I strongly recommend you all listen to the Econtalk episode on this, which was superb. The factors negatively affecting life expectancy in the USA are violence amongst young men, and deaths on the road in a car-centric country with very large distances between cities. If you exclude these two factors, the US has the world’s longest life expectancy.

    Significantly, survival for each of the most common cancers, and cancer 5-yr survival overall is longest in the US cf all other countries. Needless to add, technological and academic developments in the USA have contributed massively to increases in survival elsewhere.

  29. Dan

    Sorry pushed send by accident

  30. Grey

    Yes but many causes…infection, inflammation, actually bad dental hygiene and bacterial infection is a significant cause too. Vascular disease too. Viral infections like rubella, measles are numerically more significant where vaccination is poor, of course.

    Exactly, large economic disparities in the US and large sectors of the poorer socio-economic groups have poor access to quality primary and ante-natal care leads to higher preterm deliveries in the US compared with developed countries.

    Higher pre-term deliveries leads to higher infant mortality.

    I refer you again to the CDC study I linked above. If you want the facts, go to the epidemiologists. If you want agit-prop, go to the National Review and the Wall Street Journal

  31. If you want agit-prop, go to the National Review and the Wall Street Journal

    How about the British Medical Journal? http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e746

    Chucklehead.

  32. Dan

    Yes but the fundamental problem is drugs and or the war on drugs and associated violence. Maybe decriminalisation of drugs would do more good than Obamacare, maybe they would be equally hopeless , I have no idea. I mean I worked in the absolute poorest town in the UK which has socialised health and it was appalling in terms of antenatal care and public health.

    For fans of The Wire:

    20-year life gap separates city’s poorest, wealthy
    October 16, 2008|By Annie Linskey | [email protected]

    In West Baltimore’s impoverished Hollins Market neighborhood, where the average life expectancy is about 63 years, residents shared beers and cigarettes on their front steps at midday yesterday while pedestrians using canes gingerly avoided two dead rats on the street.

    Across town in wealthy Roland Park, where residents live on average to be 83, the scene predicably changed. One gray-haired woman rushed to swimming lessons, while a family rode past on bikes and a man with an iPod jogged nearby.

  33. .

    Exactly, large economic disparities in the US and large sectors of the poorer socio-economic groups have poor access to quality primary and ante-natal care leads to higher preterm deliveries in the US compared with developed countries.

    They get a 150 000 legal immigrants from Mexico a year. There are about 6.5 million illegal immigrants from Mexico alone. Do you think they are well off, or fully participate in public health initiatives such as mass vaccinations?

    If you want the facts, go to the epidemiologists.

    You are ignoring facts.

    So if you take out

    - US doctors try to save babies socialist hell holes like Cuba try to abort

    - inner city gang violence where they prey on their own

    - The immigrant population (legal and illegal) pushing up infant mortality for a few reasons

    - motor vehicle fatalities

    The US is quite a safe place to live, if you don’t join a gang, vaccinate your kids, drive safely and see an obstetrician early on.

    If you’re a US citizen and don’t join a gang, you have one of the highest life expectancies in the world.

  34. Grey

    How about the British Medical Journal? http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e746

    Chucklehead.

    The BMJ article isn’t contradicting the CDC. The CDC acknowledges there is a definition problem but their epidemiologists believe that even taking that into account there is a higher rate of preterm deliveries in the US versus the developed world. A higher level of infant mortality will flow from a higher level of pre-term delivery.

  35. Dan

    If you’re a US citizen and don’t join a gang, you have one of the highest life expectancies in the world.

    The highest. The impact of illegal immigration is presumably very significant but i have not seen figures.
    The Econtalk episode with Scott Atlas:

  36. The impact of illegal immigration is presumably very significant but i have not seen figures.

    The “anchor baby” situation causes problems. There is a huge incentive for non-citizens to give birth on US soil, because their child will automatically be a US citizen with all the benefits that entails. But if the Mom-to-be is there illegally, she may tend to shy away from any kind of US clinics (even the free ones, and there are plenty) or hospitals until she’s ready to give birth, out of fear of being deported. If she’s /already/ in less-than-stellar health, this doesn’t bode well for her baby.

    All the high-tech first-world medical treatment in the world to a premmie (which the baby will get, free of charge) is not as good as getting good solid basic care for those 9 months in the womb. But what can you do?

  37. Downloading that Econtalk episode now & will listen when I get a chance. Thanks for that link, Dan.

    Just for those interested, some more US healthcare myths debunked: CLICK, CLICK.

    Also, a book (from 2008) on US Healthcare by the author of the WSJ piece Sinc linked.

  38. Spot, you could also get your stats from “The Lancet.”
    Just remove or add a couple of zeros to every number.
    The trick, of course, is which number gets the + or -.

  39. JamesK

    I refer you again to the CDC study I linked above. If you want the facts, go to the epidemiologists. If you want agit-prop, go to the National Review and the Wall Street Journal

    The Left destroy everything.

    So far: the Arts, Media, Popular Culture – MTV/Hollywood, Universities, Public Service, Teaching, Social Science, Philosophy, Economics and are now busily destroying Science with co-called Climate Science and Medicine with doctors who state that abiortion is good public health and any pseudo study used as agitprop to further big government statist Leftism.

    The first stated key finding in regularly polluting statist Grey’s reference is:

    Infant mortality rates for preterm (less than 37 weeks of gestation) infants are lower in the United States than in most European countries; however, infant mortality rates for infants born at 37 weeks of gestation or more are higher in the United States than in most European countries.

    Fancy that.

    Gee….. I wonder why.

  40. So now we seem to have established that the US has one of the best health systems would we want such an expensive system here? I wouldn’t. Have to remember it is around double the cost overall.

  41. JC

    Pay peanuts and you end up with a bag full of monkey’s Kelly.

    There’s a great deal of entrepreneurialism in the US medical care system. On the whole doctors really want to find out what’s wrong and cure you.

  42. JC Spending an extra 8% of GDP on health means on average people must work 8% longer everything else being equal and I would prefer to work 8% less and retire younger and die a little younger.

  43. would we want such an expensive system here? I wouldn’t.

    The international patients liaisons’ offices at places like MD Anderson and Mayo Clinic are choc-a-bloc with desperate patients from countries with socialized healthcare who, probably just a year earlier, were putting their smug little noses in the air and sniffing about how superior their “free” healthcare systems were to that horrible expensive American monstrosity.

    Nobody wants to pay for “expensive” healthcare until they realize it can save their lives or those of their children.

    I wonder where the world will go for its advanced high-tech life-saving medical treatment when the US is brought down to NHS levels?

  44. It’s odd how when a country spends more on education, or maternity leave, or welfare, that’s A Good Thing; but when it spends more on healthcare, that’s A Bad Thing.

  45. Dog
    I object to all excessive spending including the areas you mentioned and don’t object to anyone spending there own money on health. Australia spent less on education than the US in 2009 but we were not far behind. Based on 2010 figures public health spending in the US was 60% more or 3.6% higher as a proportion of GDP which by itself would mean a 3.6% tax rate. Do I want a 3.6% tax increase the answer is no.

  46. The rest of the world free-rides on the back of US public health spending on institutions like the NCI, CDC and NIH. Perhaps they should shut them down and save US taxpayers some money … but who would pick up the slack?

    They could also stop funding free healthcare for 11+ million illegals … but I don’t think anyone would have the stomach to just let them die in the streets.

    But basically I think most Americans would agree with your point: the US government is not an efficient healthcare provider.

    Which is why Obamacare faces such opposition from those who will be stuck picking up the tab (as opposed to foreigners, who drool over the idea of Americans being forced into socialised medicine). At the moment, the government only has control over healthcare for the poor, for the elderly, for Indians and for Vets… and look what a hash they make of it. Why on earth would we want to expand their brief?

  47. …or as PJ O’Rourke put it back when the Clintons were pushing HillaryCare:

    “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.”

  48. Dog
    I don’t know what any answer is but basically I think I am like most Australian’s are basically happy with our healthcare and for the moment it is cheap by international standards. If you asked people to actually pay for relatively small incriments in service without pretending that the money comes from the magic pudding I doubt you would have any takers and would fall into 2 groups those who are happy how it is and those who buy health insurance as they do now.

    I wouldn’t expect Obamacare to make things better, at best it will be status quo with some possible improvement in some areas and lower outcomes in others.

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