Thursday, December 19th, 2013
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.
Add a Comment
Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
Four germs have been identified by a new study as the causes of severe–and often fatal–diarrhea in infants and children worldwide, leading researchers to call for better dissemination of the vaccine against rotavirus, one of the four germs. The New York Times has more:
Add a Comment
Diarrhea is a major killer of children, with an estimated 800,000 deaths each year; it has many causes, and doctors want to focus on the most common ones to bring death rates down.
The study, financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and published by The Lancet, found that the most common causes were rotavirus; a protozoan called Cryptosporidium; and two bacteria, Shigella and a toxin-producing strain of E. coli. In some areas, other pathogens, including the bacteria that causes cholera, were also important.
The study followed more than 9,000 children with diarrhea seen at clinics in Bangladesh, Gambia, India, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique and Pakistan, and, for comparison, more than 13,000 children without the disease. The children with diarrhea were more likely to have stunted growth and eight times as likely to die during a two-month follow-up period.
Diarrhea seemed to be linked to chronic malnutrition, which causes gut inflammation that can make it harder to digest food.
The prominent role of Cryptosporidium came as a surprise to the authors; it had been best known as a killer of adults whose immune systems were suppressed by AIDS.
In an editorial accompanying the study, other experts said rotavirus vaccine could save many lives.
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has found that worldwide maternal deaths could drop by at least a third if steps were taken to meet the contraception needs of women in developing countries. From The New York Times:
The study, published on Tuesday in The Lancet, a British science journal, comes ahead of a major family planning conference in London organized by the British government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that is an attempt to refocus attention on the issue. It has faded from the international agenda in recent years, overshadowed by efforts to combat AIDS and other infectious diseases, as well as by ideological battles.
The proportion of international population assistance funds that went to family planning fell to just 6 percent in 2008, down from 55 percent in 1995, while spending on H.I.V./AIDS represented 74 percent of the total in 2008, up from just 9 percent in 1995, according to Rachel Nugent, a professor of global health at the University of Washington, who cited figures from the United Nations Population Fund.
But population growth has continued to surge, with the United Nations estimating last year that the world’s population, long expected to stabilize, will instead keep growing. Population experts warn that developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, where fertility continues to be high and shortages of food and water are worsening, will face deteriorating conditions if family sizes do not shrink.
Image: Young girl, via Shutterstock.
Add a Comment
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
A global study of premature births has found that the U.S. ranks similarly to developing countries when it comes to women who give birth to premature babies. According to The New York Times, American hospitals do very well at protecting the health of both the mothers and babies, but could do far better in managing risk factors for preterm labor.
The Times reports on the possible causes for the findings:
That stems from the unique American combination of many pregnant teenagers and many women older than 35 who are giving birth, sometimes to twins or triplets implanted after in vitro fertilization, the authors said. Twins and triplets are often deliberately delivered early by Caesarean section to avoid the unpredictable risks of vaginally delivering multiple full-term babies.
Also, many American women of childbearing age have other risk factors for premature birth, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or smoking habits. And the many women who lack health insurance often do not see doctors early in their pregnancies, when problems like high blood pressure or genital infections can be headed off.
Image: Planet Earth, via Shutterstock.
Add a Comment
Thursday, January 19th, 2012
The total number of worldwide abortions decreased between 1995 and 2008 to a rate of about 28 per 1,000 women, a new study has found, but nearly half of worldwide abortions in 2008 were deemed to be “unsafe.” The study, which was published in The Lancet, defined “unsafe” any abortion performed by an untrained person in an environment that does not meet minimal medical standards.
“These latest figures are deeply disturbing,” noted Dr. Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, “The progress made in the 1990s is now in reverse. Promoting and implementing policies to reduce the number of abortions is now an urgent priority for all countries and for global health agencies, such as WHO. Condemning, stigmatizing, and criminalizing abortion are cruel and failed strategies. It’s time for a public health approach that emphasizes reducing harm – and that means more liberal abortion laws, ” Horton continued.
The study also found about 78% of all abortions took place in the developing world in 1995. That number increased to 86% by 2008, even though the number of women of childbearing age in those countries rose more slowly.
And even though the abortion rate has declined over the years, the study found there were 2.2 million more abortions in 2008 (43.8 million) compared with 2003 (41.6 million).
Study authors believe the changes in abortion rates between 1995 and 2008 coincide with a lack of modern contraceptive methods available to women worldwide. They also noted family planning services don’t seem to be keeping up with the increasing demand by people across the globe who want to have smaller families and therefore better control of the timing of births.
Add a Comment