One in eight infants born in America is premature and that is a shameful statistic for the richest nation in the World. Canada, Australia and Japan, all do better in this public health arena and so do a number of less-developed nations. In numbers terms premature births are around 15,000,000 children or about 1 in 10 of births Worldwide.
Most premature births in the World occur in Africa and Asia,according to a World Health Organization report, issued last Wednesday.
[box type=”note”]The American record on premature births is close to that of Thailand, Turkey and Somalia. By comparison just 5.9% of births in Japan and Sweden are premature. [/box]
Americaâ€™s poor performance when it comes to premature births when compared with other developed nations is a complex multi cause problem. One of the most important underlying causal factors must surely be the low numbers of pregnant, particularly teenage, women getting access to even adequate prenatal care because they are uncovered by health insurance.
The state of Florida exemplifies this social phenomenon problem. Lee County had 837 premature births out of nearly 6,500 total births in 2011. At around 13% this is a little above the national average which is unacceptably high in itself. The figures for Collier County were 388 out of nearly 3,200 and 12%. The March of Dimes awarded the state a shameful grade â€˜Dâ€™ because 1 in three mothers were uninsured. African-American mother’s make up the majority of these â€˜at riskâ€™ women. They are twice as likely as white mothers to get inadequate or zero prenatal support and consequently, have that much more chance of a premature birth.
Even more worryingly for policymakers is the fact that the report places the US 58 out of 65 countries who accurately measure this public health statistic. We perform much worse than even many latin American states. When computer modeling is used to project fewer valid results from other countries, the US slips to 127th in the World league.of prenatal care. The responsibility lies with medics all over America to use every interaction with young women of childbearing age to check for risks to healthy babies and births.
A further startling statistic in this report is that the biggest difference between the first and the third World is in infant mortality. Being born premature is a much underestimated killer and little recognized in countries where it could have a big impact in reducing infant mortality. Globally, more than 1 million premature infants die and many more carry lifelong disabilities as a direct result of poor prenatal care.
Infant mortality is of course far greater in the third World than it is in America. This is thanks to the highly technical and capable neonatal support systems available to all those premature births. A â€˜preemieâ€™ born in Senegal or anywhere else in Africa is 12 times more likely to die.
Global capitalism is intent on maintaining and extending the financial inequity between rich nations and poor nations, between the super-rich elite of America and the minorities. Surely, there is a financial product that could redress this appalling imbalance?