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U.S. Ranks 47th in Infant Mortality. Why?

Posted Nov 01 2012 12:00am

This is according to the CIA World Factbook .

Why does the U.S. rank so high?  Is it due to the health of the mothers?  More premature babies being born (thus meaning that the average birth in the U.S. is more complex)?  Or is it the standard of medical care?

A website on evidenced based maternity care argues that the reason is that mothers-to-be get too many medical interventions.  This website argues that interventions such as Cesareans or inductions are helpful and often life-saving for high-risk mothers.  For the average mother, however, these interventions increase the likelihood of complications and increase infant mortality.

For example, when a group of about 50 labor and delivery nurses from across the nation were asked how many had witnessed a natural or “physiologic” birth in their educational programs, about half raised their hands.  When  natural or “physiologic” birth was further defined as:“undisturbed, without continuous electronic fetal monitoring, without I.V. fluids, with food or drink at will, freedom to move about and not confined to a bed” the number of raised hands dropped to one or two. The opportunity is simply not present.

The problem is that although these interventions are helpful for the average high risk person, they are not beneficial for the average women. Since Cesareans not only are more lucrative than natural births, but also reduce the time the physician needs to attend to the laboring mother during birth, many physicians prefer Cesareans.

What is the solution? The website calls for fewer routine interventions unless they are medically indicated. For instance, the site recommends the end of routine fetal monitoring, as it increases the incidence of interventions and inhibits the mother’s ability to do what is necessary to give birth physiologically. This routine is not justified for everyone by reliable research and is often the gateway to other highly questionable routines.

Visit the Improving Birth webpage for more information.

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