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US Has No Cause For Celebration Over CDC Infant Mortality Report

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The U.S., after "five years of stagnation, ... has managed to cut its infant mortality a bit," but that is "no great cause for celebration, especially since this country's rates remain far too high and so many other countries are doing so much better on this important measure of a nation's health and the quality of its medical system," a New York Times editorial states.

According to a report released last week by CDC, the U.S. infant mortality rate decreased to 6.71 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006 from 6.86 in 2005, the editorial states. However, that remains 50% "higher than the official national goal of 4.5 deaths per thousand," according to the editorial.

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"What is particularly shameful is how poorly this country compares with other industrialized countries," as the U.S. ranked 29th lowest in infant mortality worldwide in 2004, the most recent year for which comparative data are available, the editorial states. Infant mortality is "associated with many factors, including the health and economic status of the mother, her race or ethnicity, access to quality medical care, and such cultural problems as rising obesity and drug use," the editorial states, adding, "That makes it difficult to identify the cause of the United States' poor performance."

The editorial concludes, "The chief lesson we draw is that the American health care system, despite the highest expenditures in the world, is badly in need of an overhaul" (New York Times, 10/19).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.