Premature Births Linked to Increase in U.S. Infant Mortality Rate
A new data brief was released this week by CDC, National Center for Health Statistics on how the U.S. is faring in premature births and infant mortality. Sadly, the infant mortality rate has worsened since 2004. According to the report, premature births were the primary cause for the increase in infant mortality.
Here are the key findings from the report:
- In 2005, the United States ranked 30th in infant mortality.
- Differences in the reporting of live births between countries can have an impact on international comparisons of infant mortality.
- The U.S. infant mortality rate was still higher than for most European countries when births at less than 22 weeks of gestation were excluded.
- The United States compares favorably with European countries in infant mortality rates for preterm, but not for term infants.
- One in 8 births in the United States were born preterm, compared with 1 in 18 births in Ireland and Finland.
- The percentage of births that were born preterm was much higher in the United States than in Europe.
- Much of the high infant mortality rate in the United States is due to the high percentage of preterm births.
So what are the experts saying about why the United States may have more premature births?
- Fertility treatments and other forms of assisted reproduction probably play a role because they often lead to twins, triplets or other multiple births. Those children tend to be delivered early.
- The U.S. health care system doesn’t guarantees prenatal care to pregnant women, particularly the uninsured (Dr. Alan R. Fleischman, medical director for the March of Dimes).
- Maternal obesity and smoking have been linked to premature births and may also be a factor.
- Health officials are also concerned that doctors increasingly are inducing labor or performing C-sections before the 37th week. Dr. Fleischman also indicated in a statement to the NY Times that most infant deaths do not occur in babies just shy of 37 weeks gestation, but rather in those much younger,
The report also found that while the United States more commonly saw premature births, survival rates for infants at that gestational age were as good or better than most European countries.
Below are links to a variety of articles on this report:
Click HERE for access to the PDF report