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Save the Children: US Has the Highest First-Day Infant Death Rate in the Industrialized World

Every year, nearly three million infants die within the first month of their life — with over a third of these tragedies occurring on the first day. Even sadder is the fact that most of these deaths could be preventable. It's a familiar statistic that many would rather ignore — a problem too big to comprehend, too morose to ponder — but in the same Save the Children report (PDF) comes a surprising new bit of data: Among industrialized nations, the United States has the highest rate of first-day infant mortality.

The United States has the highest first-day death rate in the industrialized world. An estimated 11,300 newborn babies die each year in the United States on the day they are born. This is 50 percent more first-day deaths than all other industrialized countries combined. The 33 other industrialized countries for which there are data have a combined total of 7,500 first-day deaths each year.

It's a sobering reality that recalls the famous rant from Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom. Here are some other statistics from the report to remember the next time a Save the Children advertisement comes on your television screen:

  • Newborn deaths account for 43 percent of all deaths among children under the age of five.
  • Every day, 800 women die giving birth to a child.
  • First-day infant death rates are highest in Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Sierra Leone.
  • More than a million infant deaths could be saved each year with these four items made readily available: (1) steroid injections for women in preterm labor (to reduce deaths due to premature babies’ breathing problems); (2) resuscitation devices (to save babies who do not breathe at birth); (3) chlorhexidine cord cleansing (to prevent umbilical cord infections); and (4) injectable antibiotics (to treat newborn sepsis and pneumonia).
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