U.S. Infant Mortality Rate Higher Than Other Developed Countries

A new analysis by the Institute of Medicine of global health care costs and outcomes has revealed the troubling statistic that the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is more than double the rates in Japan, Sweden, and some other developed countries.  America lags behind 16 other countries, despite the fact that infant mortality rates have been steadily dropping over the last decade.  From The Washington Post:

“Although U.S. infant mortality declined by 20 percent between 1990 and 2010,” the report notes, “other high-income countries experienced much steeper declines and halved their infant mortality rates over those two decades.”

As to what explains the high infant mortality rate, the researchers aren’t quite sure. They say it is not explained by ethnic diversity in the United States. While U.S. minorities do tend to have a higher infant mortality rate, non-Hispanic whites in the United States also have worse outcomes than those in peer nations.

Image: Earth, via Shutterstock

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  1. by MrsM

    On January 12, 2013 at 4:22 pm

  2. by JessDK

    On January 12, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Doctors do not practice delayed cord clamping in the US, thereby causing asphyxiation in newborns. Also, cord blood banking is big business. The cord blood belongs in the baby’s body! And it takes a few minutes to make the trip from placenta to baby. If impatient obstetricians would wait 5 minutes, babies would be saved. If we allowed the cord to do it’s job and deliver the oxygen rich blood to our babies, we would have many more babies surviving.

  3. by becky

    On January 12, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Doctors in the US have a tendency to plan births. I’m curious as to the difference in lengths of pregnancy between countries. Typically the longer a baby has to grow in utero the better. The US likes to run so many tests, do so many sonos, and stress about convenience.

  4. by Marie

    On January 13, 2013 at 10:17 am


    “U.S. infant mortality declined by 20 percent between 1990 and 2010,”

    which is also the same period in which many new vaccines were introduced. So clearly vaccines are NOT causing increased infant mortality.

    Our abysmal record on children’s health is because we simply don’t prioritize it on a national level. We have no system to ensure that every child has access to healthcare, and indeed, millions of children are without health insurance and their parents cannot afford healthcare (or prenatal care, which is a major contributor to infant mortality). All these other nations have universal healthcare, ensuring that all citizens, especially children, have access to healthcare. We as a nation have decided that this is not important, and we suffer the consequences.

  5. by Jenn

    On January 13, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Maybe routine infant circumcision has a lot to do with it. There are no “official numbers” because circumcision-induced deaths are often recorded as other causes (hemorrhage, heart failure, etc.) It’s a completely unnecessary cosmetic procedure that no other countries practice routinely.

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  7. [...] January of this year, the Institute of Medicine had released data showing the U.S. infant mortality rate was more than double that of many other developed countries. Add a [...]

  8. [...] though still relatively high compared to other industrialized countries, the U.S. infant mortality rate is improving ever so slightly, too, [...]