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U.S. newborn death rate surprisingly high

by nickj on August 31, 2011

Results of a new study reveal some shocking information about infant mortality in the United Sates. Published in the journal PLoS Medicine, the research indicates the newborn death rate in the U.S. is higher than 40 other countries including Cuba, Malaysia and Poland.

The biggest reason for the surprising statistics is that the United States has not improved its rates over the last several years, while some other countries around the world have. In particular, countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which used to rank behind the U.S., have pulled about even. According to CNN, infant mortality has dropped about 26 percent since 1990 in the U.S., but that still leaves it lagging behind many other developed nations.

Specifically, the study showed the the United States has a newborn death rate of about 4.3 per 1000. The highest rate was in Afghanistan, where about 1 in every 19 infants dies in the first month of their life.

Perhaps the most pressing issue this raises is that many of these deaths can be prevented, Pediatrician Dr. Joy Lawn told the publication. The three leading causes of infant mortality are preterm delivery, asphyxia and sever infection, all of which can be avoided, she says.

"Training more midwives and other community health workers could save the lives of many more babies," she told the Associated Press. "We know that solutions as simple as keeping newborns warm, clean and properly breast-fed can keep them alive."

The study analyzed data over the last 20 years from the 193 countries that are members of the World Health Organization.

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