In the U.S., 12.5 percent of all babies are born prematurely ““ twice the rate of Finland, Japan, Norway, and Sweden. Complications of preterm birth directly cause 35 percent of all newborn deaths in the U.S., making it the number one cause of infant mortality. The U.S. also has the highest adolescent birth rate of any industrialized nation ““ these young mothers tend to be poorer, less educated, and receive less prenatal care, all resulting in lesser maternal health.
New investments in education, healthcare, and youth sexual awareness will address some of the underlying causes. Wider use of family planning can improve birth outcomes and reduce newborn deaths as well ““ 49 percent of all U.S. pregnancies are unplanned; these babies are at higher death and disability risk. High-quality care before, during, and after pregnancy, as well as access to the appropriate level of care during delivery can result in healthier babies.
There are already many things that U.S. hospitals are already doing to improve infant/child, including:
- Increased support and promotion of breastfeeding
- Kangaroo care ““ or skin-to-skin contact for all babies, including those in NICU
- Expanding the number of immunized low-income children
There is a long road ahead, but the good news is that thousands of happy, healthy babies are born in the U.S. every day to joyous, healthy mothers.