Newborn death rate higher in U.S. than in 40 other countries worldwide

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A new study conducted by the World Health Organization and Save the Children has found that newborn death rates are higher in the United States than in 40 other countries, including undeveloped ones, around the world.

Neonatal death, which is defined as the death of a baby within the first 28 days of life, is likely an expectant parent’s greatest fear and is much more common than many people might think.

Babies younger than four weeks old make up 41 percent of the child deaths that are recorded around the world. Researchers said newborn mortality rates are important because paying attention to the cause of infant deaths can help prevent them in the future.

"Training more midwives and other community health workers could save the lives of many more babies," said Pediatrician Dr. Joy Lawn, who works with Save the Children. "We know that solutions as simple as keeping newborns warm, clean and properly breast-fed can keep them alive."

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Lawn herself survived after being born via emergency C-section in a bush hospital in Uganda 40 years ago. The hospital where she was born had no running water or electricity.

While people might expect bad conditions and high death rates in third-world countries, most don’t expect the U.S. to rank toward the top on a list of countries where babies routinely die.

"It's not that things are worse in the United States than before; it's that the U.S. isn't making progress like other countries," Lawn said.

The technology and level of care in some countries has evolved to such a high point that an infant born in the U.S. now has the same chance of surviving as a newborn in Qatar or Croatia. The newborn death rate in the U.S. is 4.3 deaths per every 1,000 live births.

Taking the entire world into account, infants face the greatest risk of death in Afghanistan, but India leads in the sheer number of newborn deaths, coming in at more than 900,000 each year.
In the same study that listed the U.S. as having one of the highest death rates, India was recorded as having a 33 percent drop in newborn fatalities.

The study conducted by The World Health Organization and Save the Children is the most comprehensive study that has been conducted concerning newborn death rates. The research covered all 193 countries in the world and spanned a time period of 20 years.

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