U.S. 40th in newborn deaths rate

Aug. 31, 2011 at 6:03 PM
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WESTPORT, Conn., Aug. 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. death rate for newborn babies is higher than 40 other countries, and is tied with Qatar, Croatia and the United Arab Emirates, a report says.

Researchers at the World Health Organization and Save the Children produced the most comprehensive estimates to date of babies who die in the first four weeks of life and mortality rates of all 193 WHO member countries over a 20-year-period.

In 1990, the United States had the 28th lowest rate and in the subsequent 20 years, reduced its newborn mortality rate 26 percent, but this was slower than the global average of 28 percent, the report says. Currently, the United States, Qatar, Croatia and United Arab Emirates have a newborn death rate of 4.3 per 1,000 live births, the report says.

Of the 10 countries with a newborn mortality reduction of more than two-thirds in the last two decades, eight were high-income countries -- Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Luxembourg, Oman, San Marino and Singapore -- and two were middle income countries -- Maldives and Serbia, the report says.

Afghan babies face the greatest risk, with one in 19 dying in the first month of life at 53 per 1,000 births.

Five countries account for more than half of the world's 3.3 million newborn deaths -- India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and Democratic Republic of Congo, the report says.

"We know that solutions as simple as keeping newborns warm, clean and properly breastfed can keep them alive, but more and better trained frontline health workers are needed to teach these basic lifesaving practices," the report's co-author, Dr. Joy Lawn of Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives program, says in a statement.

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