Advancing a Free Society

Infant Mortality: A Deceptive Statistic

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Virtually every national and international agency involved in statistical assessments of health status, health care, and economic development uses the infant-mortality rate — the number of infants per 1,000 live births who die before reaching the age of one — as a fundamental indicator. America’s high infant-mortality rate has been repeatedly put forth as evidence “proving” the substandard performance of the U.S. health-care system. And now a new report focusing specifically on neonatal mortality (mortality rates in the first four weeks of life) from Mikkel Oestergaard and the World Health Organization (WHO) is being cited as an indictment of U.S. health care, with headlines proclaiming that the U.S. ranks 41st in the world on this measure.

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