Friday, January 11th, 2013
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
Friday, November 9th, 2012
Sweden’s government has drafted legislation that would prevent images of babies from appearing in formula ads, the Huffington Post reports. Ads for formula would only be permitted in scientific journals, and free samples or discounts on the product would be prohibited, as well. Supporters cite research lauding the health benefits babies derived from breast milk, including antibodies associated with fewer colds, healthier digestive systems, and decreased likelihood of developing allergies. Critics argue that reiterating the idea that “the breast is best” is harshly judgmental towards women who are unable or choose not to nurse. If the bill is passed, the law would take effect in August 2013.
Image: Baby drinking from bottle via Shutterstock
Monday, August 6th, 2012
Swedish fathers currently get two months of paid paternity leave, but their government is considering whether to extend that to three months. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Sweden’s paternity-leave benefits, enjoyed by citizens and foreign residents alike, are the most generous in the world—and a debate is under way nationwide over whether to extend them even further. Sweden should require men to take a minimum of three months’ leave, instead of the current two months, some politicians argue.
Fathers currently can take off work for as long as 240 days with a government-backed paycheck. Even if a father decides to take a more modest leave than allowed, he must take at least two months before the child is 8 years old to receive the government benefits.
Scores of dads can be seen during typical business hours strolling the streets of Stockholm, Gothenburg and other big cities pushing a stroller with one hand and nursing a cup from Espresso House or Wayne’s Coffee in the other. It isn’t uncommon to see men feeding babies and changing diapers in Stockholm’s famous Djugarden park island, which is within view of some of the city’s biggest companies and financial institutions.
Since being instituted in 1974, the paternity-leave policy has evolved from being a mechanism to encourage women to join what was a depleted workforce in the 1970s, to serve as a tool for gender equality and home stability today.
The Swedish government will pay 80% of a parent’s salary—up to a cap of about $65,000—for 13 months. One parent can sign over all but two of these months to the other.
Government statistics show the vast majority of fathers take off at least the minimum two months. And about 72% of working-age women living in Sweden are employed at least part time, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Image: Father and baby, via Shutterstock
Thursday, November 10th, 2011
In the wake of a 2004 video of a Texas judge beating his teenage daughter with a belt, which received huge YouTube circulation last week, the national conversation about parents using physical means of discipline on their children has risen to fever pitch.
Hillary Adams, now 23, learned last week that the statute of limitations had expired on charges of abuse or judicial misconduct against her father. She had uploaded the video in hopes that her father would be remorseful for her behavior and reconcile their relationship.
CNN.com published a report today about Sweden, which in 1979 became the first country to outlaw corporal punishment by parents. Today, 30 countries have similar laws. From the article:
No countries in North America ban physical punishment by parents, but there’s a perennial debate about the line between discipline and abuse, and who’s allowed to administer it. It flared again last week after millions watched a seven-minute YouTube video from 2004 that showed a Texas judge cursing at his teen daughter and beating her with a belt.
While there are laws against child abuse, it’s legal in all 50 states for parents to hit their children, and for schools in 19 states to physically punish kids. About 80% of American parents said they’ve hit their young children, and about 100,000 kids are paddled in U.S. schools every year, researchers said.
Kids are still hit with hands, belts, switches and paddles, said Elizabeth Gershoff , an associate professor of human development and family sciences at University of Texas, despite research that shows it doesn’t model or teach behavior parents are looking for, that it damages trust between parent and children and that it can lead to increased aggression.
Although more parents are trying a variety of disciplinary measures, corporal punishment isn’t going away, and some researchers argue that it shouldn’t. It’s effective for gaining immediate compliance from young children, and is unlikely to have long-term negative effects, they said. More powerfully, it’s hard to stop a discipline technique that’s been passed down through generations.
(image via: http://www.principalspage.com/)