In a blow that illustrated the dramatic extent of the U.S. health decline, a new study shows that babies born in America are less likely to reach their first birthday than babies born in comparably wealthy countries. The study was undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
While the overall infant mortality rate has declined across all OECD members since 1960, the decline has been less pronounced in the U.S. America, then, has failed to keep pace in regards to delivering the best healthcare available compared to other wealthy countries.
The bad news represents the continuing trend of U.S. health decline that has plagued the country for years now, encompassing everything from increased income inequality to epidemics like the opioid crisis and an increase in mental health issues.
Compared to 19 other countries within the OECD, U.S. babies were about three times more likely to die from extreme immaturity and 2.3 times more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome between 2001 and 2010. If the U.S. health decline had not taken place, America would have had 300,000 fewer infant deaths over the course of 50 years.
Authors of the study pointed to the higher rate of poverty relative to other developed nations as well as a weak social safety net, contributing to the higher death rate.
Premature delivery and low birth-weight have been linked in the past with poverty. Around one-fifth of American children live in poverty, the second-highest percentage among the 35 developed countries, according to a 2013 United Nations Children’s Fund report.
The overall result is that the U.S. health decline is not only bad for the country but speaks to the larger issues that have plagued the nation in recent years, namely rampant poverty, weak social safety legislation, and an increasingly bleak disparity between the rich and the poor.
“American Babies Are Less Likely to Survive Their First Year Than Babies in Other Rich Countries,” TIME, January 9, 2018.