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Rates of infant mortality and preterms births are down, but still too high

Consumer Reports News: July 13, 2012 01:08 PM

The rates of babies being born too early and dying soon after birth has gone down in the U.S., according to a new government report. But the rates of those events are still higher here than in many other industrialized countries.

The new report, from the National Institutes of Health, shows that the proportion of infants born preterm (that is, before the 37th week of pregnancy), dropped from 12.2 percent in 2009 to 12.0 percent in 2010. That's a step in the right direction, but still puts the U.S. about 130th in the world, on par with Somalia, Thailand, and Turkey, according to information from the March of Dimes.

The number of children who die before their first birthday dropped from 6.4 per 1,000 births in 2009 to 6.1 in 2010, the new report shows. Again, that's better, but still means that the U.S. lags behind about 30 other countries, including South Korea, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic.

Some research suggests that one reason the U.S. trails other industrialized countries in those and other measures is the overuse of a number of common medical interventions. Those procedures, including C-sections and induced labor, can be lifesaving in some situations but might also increase risk when used inappropriately.

For details, see our report What to Reject When You Are Expecting.

America's children: Key national indicators of well being [National Institutes of Health]
Born too soon [March of Dimes]

Joel Keehn

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