There’s no question that the U.S. has a disturbingly high rate of infant mortality compared to other industrialized nations. A report from the Commonwealth Fund released earlier this year found that the nation has a higher rate than any of the dozen other “high-income” countries studied. This is the reality despite the fact that the U.S. spends more money per person on health care than those other countries.
As of 2020, the U.S. experienced 5.4 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. (Note that infant mortality refers to death anywhere between a baby’s birth and their first birthday.) This is roughly triple the rate of most other highly-developed and wealthy countries that have been studied. Canada came in second, but is still far behind at 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. The disparity between the U.S. and other wealthy countries is even greater for maternal mortality rates.
Three key factors have been identified
What makes the prognosis for babies and their mothers worse in the U.S. than in other wealthy countries? Three leading reasons have been observed:
- The high rate of cesarean-section births
- Inadequate prenatal care
- Conditions like obesity, heart disease and diabetes stemming primarily from poverty
It should be noted also that the U.S. is the only country among the 13 compared that doesn’t have guaranteed universal health care. Some countries also offer a private insurance option. As of 2021, some 8.6% of people in the U.S. had no health insurance, despite the greater access and affordability provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Disparities within the U.S.
There’s no question that the U.S. has wide economic as well as racial and ethnic disparities concerning access to affordable but quality healthcare before, during and after childbirth. These contribute to the U.S.’s lack of ability to protect newborns – and their mothers.
Where you live in the U.S. can also make a difference. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Louisiana ranked next to last (ahead of only Mississippi) in 2020 with an infant mortality rate of 7.59.
Unfortunately, you can do everything right as an expectant parent and trust your and your baby’s well-being to what you believe are capable healthcare providers, only to have things go horribly wrong during or shortly after the birth of your child. If you believe your doctor or other medical professional was to blame for recent harm that you or your child have suffered, it’s wise to learn more about your options for holding them accountable with the assistance of an experienced legal professional.