Federal researchers announced this week that the American infant mortality rate, which is used as a way to judge our overall health, dropped in 2010, the last year it was measured. But the drop wasn't as sharp as researchers had hoped, as NBC News reports:
Birth defects and low birth weight were the two leading causes of newborn death, the survey by the National Center for Health Statistics found. And babies born to teenage mothers were the most likely to weigh too little, the NCHS, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.
They report that the U.S. infant mortality rate was 6.14 infant deaths per 1,000 births in 2010, which is just 4 percent lower than the rate of 6.39 in 2009. This adds up to 24,572 babies who died at or around birth in 2010.
The United States may be one of the richest countries in the world, but has a very high rate of infant mortality compared to other wealthy countries — and compared even to some not-so-rich countries. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) consistently finds the U.S. near the bottom of its list of 34-member countries on this measure.
The U.S. infant mortality rate is well above the OECD average of four deaths per 1,000. In Iceland, just 1.6 babies out of every 1,000 die and in Sweden, Japan, and Finland, it's around two per 100,000.
In 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.