If Baltimore Were A Country, It Would Be Namibia

Mark Leon Goldberg at UN Dispatch has broken down the numbers from a report crafted by Save the Children and has discovered some very somber data on infant mortality in the United States. As it turns out, some cities, despite being quite wealthy, are on par with developing nations when it comes to the health of infants.

Although the United States has one of the worst infant mortality rates amongst industrialized countries, the Birth Day Risk Index exposes just how dire the situation is for some American cities. According to the report, this new indicator "estimate[s] the risk and number of newborn deaths by country for the day of birth (i.e. “day 0”), as well as the first week of life (i.e. days 0-6), and the full neonatal period (i.e. days 0-27)."

When Mark Leon Goldberg looked at individual cities such as Baltimore (that has a birth day risk index of 6.4), he realized that their situation was worryingly close to poor countries like "Rwanda and Namibia, which have ratios of 7 and 6 respectively." Here's a list of the worst cities in America, measured by this indicator.


Source: UN Dispatch

Why is the United States lagging behind other Western countries? The report concludes that it's due to a mix of systemic racism, lack of accessible health care and sky-rocketing teen pregnancy rates.

"Many babies in the United States are born too early. The U.S. preterm birth rate (1 in 8 births) is one of the highest in the industrialized world (second only to Cyprus). In fact, 130 countries from all across the world have lower preterm birth rates than the United States. The U.S. prematurity rate is twice that of Finland, Japan, Norway and Sweden. The United States has over half a million preterm births each year – the sixth largest number in the world (after India, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and Indonesia),"

[...] Poverty, racism and stress are likely to be important contributing factors to first-day deaths in the United States [...] newborn and infant mortality are often higher among the poor and racial and ethnic minorities, and populations with high newborn mortality rates also tend to have high first-day death rates. [...]

"One recent analysis of U.S. data found that most of the higher infant mortality experienced by black and Puerto Rican infants compared with white infants was due to preterm-related causes. These groups are also less likely to receive the high-risk care they need, which puts their babies at even higher risk."

The report suggests that by increasing the quality of "care before, during and after pregnancy (including home visits by nurses or community health workers if appropriate)" and making health care more accessible could turn the situation around.

If this doesn't convince the American government and politicians to reform the American health care, what will?

For more on reproductive health, follow me on Twitter: @feministabulous

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Elizabeth Plank

Elizabeth is a Senior Correspondent at Mic and the host of Flip the Script.

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