World’s Mothers Report: We Need To Lower Newborn Deaths

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With Mother’s Day just around the corner, the Save the Children foundation released its 14th annual State of the World’s Mothers Report. This year, the U.S. ranks as the 30th best country to be a mom, dropping five spots from last year’s 25th-place ranking.

The annual report rates the well-being of mothers and children in 165 countries based on factors that range from a mother’s education to breast-feeding prevalence. This year, Finland ranks first, followed by Sweden and Norway, for having high scores in mothers’ and children’s overall health, educational, economic and political status.

This year’s report focuses on newborn health. Over 1 million babies die on their first day of life, and researchers from Save the Children and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine say the findings indicate that figuring out how to help newborns survive day one can help lower the child mortality risk.

(MORE: Report: U.S. Is the 25th Best Country to Be a Mom)

Since 1990, overall child mortality has decreased from 12 million annual deaths to less than 7 million. However, newborn mortality rates have proved more stubborn: 43% of child deaths occur during a baby’s first month of life, and more than a third happen on day one. “That’s a big percentage, which is why we are focusing on it. If we really want to drive down child mortality overall, we have to move that newborn number faster,” says Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children.

The leading causes of newborn death are prematurity, birth complications and severe infections. More than 98% of first-day deaths occur in the developing world where infections and problems at birth are more common.

However, the U.S. is not exactly a role model for newborn survival, especially for a wealthy country. Among the industrial world, the report says the U.S. accounts for 60% of all first-day deaths; in 2011, about 11,300 babies died in the U.S. on their first day of life. Babies born to low-income moms are most at risk.

“That’s a shocking statistic in the U.S. A lot of the issue is around moms seeking prenatal care and knowing what they need to do to reduce those risks,” says Miles. “If you have ever been to the premie unit in a hospital in the U.S, we have amazing technology. It has more to do with moms seeking that prenatal care and getting the care they need.”

(MORE: My Sister, My Surrogate: After Battling Cancer, One Woman Receives the Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift)

Miles says the interventions that are going to be most effective are not high-tech and do not require cutting-edge hospitals or doctors to administer them. “Some of the success stories are in some of the poorest countries,” says Miles. “Look at places like Nepal, where they are really driving down those newborn deaths. That is a country with pretty simple interventions.”

In Nepal, infections are one of the major issues at childbirth. The use of a tube of antibiotics called chlorhexidine, which is widely available and inexpensive, is driving down the country’s newborn mortality rates. “Taking a clean razor blade and putting that antiseptic onto the umbilical cord of the baby has a big impact,” says Miles. “In Nepal, 63% of women give birth at home, so you need to get this antibiotic in the hands of health workers who are helping these mothers give birth in these rural areas and at home. Their government has made this a commitment.”

Overall, the report cites four interventions that could really make a difference in newborn death rates. Besides using chlorhexidine to cleanse umbilical cords, the researchers recommend steroid injections for women undergoing preterm labor in order to lower deaths in premature babies from breathing problems, resuscitation devices to save babies who are born not breathing and injectable antibiotics to treat newborn sepsis and pneumonia.

(MORE: 5 Ways to Reduce Preterm Births)

“[To make these changes] it takes political will and it takes focus and continued support from donor governments like the U.S. and the U.K. and Germany,” says Miles. “It also takes countries where kids are dying to say, This doesn’t have to happen here.”

30 comments
skulander1
skulander1

You know, you'd think that so-called "prolife" folks would be interested in actually improving those figures and would work towards reducing maternal mortality and infant mortality.

But nope!!! They're too busy attacking women's human right to access safe, legal medical services, including abortion.

Again, it's not pro-life. It's anti-choice and pro-control of women's bodies and lives.

MorningMist
MorningMist

The US is also the only westernized country where paid maternal leave is not guaranteed. Heck there are developing countries with better maternal leave policies. It's almost like they think women don't work, so they don't need time off after giving birth.  And with more and more companies reducing the number of full time workers, you can expect women to not show up for their prenatal care appointments because they can't afford to miss work. Many women probably can't afford to take the unpaid leave after the baby is born either. The FMLA is a pretty weak piece of legislation. 12 weeks of unpaid leave where you can't lose your job. If you have STD then you maybe lucky enough to get 6 weeks of 60% pay. Of course women brag about how they can get back to work after a day. But at what cost. 

FreddyBright1
FreddyBright1

I reckon the reason why this happens is because of unwanted pregnancy

shaun
shaun

Wow such a variety of opinions. There are various procedures that could be modified in the U.S. This goes to show that you can't tell people about their children or their pets

NormanBouchal
NormanBouchal

Alex:  What a load of CRAP!  The statistics are skewed due to the incredible medical technology that the United States possesses.  What most countries designate "still birth" here in the U.S. doctors fight with all their might for weeks to save a child.  If you ask 100 people if you could choose the country of your birth 99 would say USA!  There is now a thriving market for USA births.  Foreign parents rent a room for the birth of their child in a suburb in the U.S. thereby guaranteeing them U.S. Citizenship.  Just saying...

triago88
triago88 like.author.displayName 1 Like

the best way to lower the number of dead babies is probably to stop killing them. I'm no expert, but i don't think vacuuming them out and chopping them up is good for their respiratory system.

JesusFreek
JesusFreek

@triago88

No, no, no.  You don't understand the 'enlightened' liberal agenda Sir!  (I'm an Independent)  It can be summed up as follows:

1) Kill unborn children under the guise of "women's health" (as many as the tax payers will pay for through Planned Parenthood)

2) Be overly controlling of people that should be able to make decisions for themselves

3) Get as many voters to take entitlements as possible to fuel the campaigns

4) Make everyone who disagrees with you look like a caveman sociopath (by calling them narrow-minded, bigoted, intolerant, hateful, -phobic, on and on and on...)

5) Make the gov'ment so big that it will never ever ever ever go away.  Someday you will just hand your paycheck to Uncle Sam and he will decide what to do with it.


Enjoy!


unicosm
unicosm like.author.displayName 1 Like

that 3700 unborn children killed everyday!!!

unicosm
unicosm like.author.displayName 1 Like

I agree we must lower new born death as well as the killing of the unborn through abortion procedures. about 3700 children are killrd before they are born in the US alone. For those worried about overpopulation infanticide is not the solution.

Joey234
Joey234

I agree with JesusFreek but this is about saving baby mortality - I assume for wanted babies. Even though the US is supposedly wealthy, we have to understand that 75% of the population is NOT wealthy. I will guess that the mother's of the babies who have died are on MEDICAID, pay out of pocket for health care or don't get the prenatal care they need ie. because of cost. And then of course CPS will come in and remove children in "danger" OR in other words, CPS will remove children born to the poor as if POOR were a disease. Funny, CPS and other agencies like human resources CAN actually fund programs to aid in the health and welfare of babies and children and parental education but they would rather remove kids from good homes to keep the 1) CONTROL over the population 2) FUNDS going to them for jobs, kiddy porn rings and to 3) INSTILL FEAR - to gain yet more control.  Oh what fun this world is!!

ATuteur
ATuteur

Ironically, the picture used to illustrate mortality in the US is an almost certainly preventable death from a planned HOMEBIRTH, with a licensed homebirth midwife (CPM). Homebirth with a homebirth midwife (CPM) has a dramatically higher death rate than hospital birth.

In addition, it is deeply unfortunate that Save the Children used deeply flawed data to make the erroneous claim that the US is 30 from the top in the list. As researchers at Fetal and Infant Health Study Group of the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System detailed in a scientific paper last year (Influence of definition based versus pragmatic birth registration on international comparisons of perinatal and infant mortality: population based retrospective study, BMJ 2012; 344), international comparisons of neonatal death rates are invalid:

"The World Health Organization … has long defined a live birth as any product of conception that shows signs of life at birth, with no consideration for birthweight or gestational age criteria. Although this definition remains unchallenged, countries have widely varying regulations for registration of birth that range from definition based to pragmatic. For instance, birth registration is required for all live births that satisfy the WHO’s definition of live birth in Canada, England and Wales, and the United States, whereas countries such as the Czech Republic, France, and the Netherlands specify limits based on some combination of gestational age (for example, at least 22 weeks), birth weight (for example, at least 500 g), or survival (for example, any live birth irrespective of birth weight that survives the first 24 hours after birth)."

In other words, countries that appear to rank higher than the US do so by cheating. They deliberately exclude extremely premature infants, characterizing them as dead (stillbirths) even when they are born alive.

The authors conclude:

"Variations in the registration of births at the borderline of viability and related problems compromise the validity of international rankings of industrialised countries by perinatal and infant mortality."

Simply put, the rankings are invalid because many developed countries leave out a substantial portion of newborn deaths and thereby make their rankings look better than they are.

RobertAnderson
RobertAnderson

It's called population control...don't mess with it

MichRants
MichRants

Considering the Earth is already highly overpopulated, I wish we would concentrate on decreasing the number of newborns rather than the number of newborn deaths.

MichaelWeston
MichaelWeston like.author.displayName 1 Like

If anyone understands exponential growth you will understand this double edged sword.

Save more babies= higher population on limited resources= population limit reached sooner. 

We will eventually reach the population limit for this rock we call earth. 

Lets shift the conversation to birth control / sterilization  

JesusFreek
JesusFreek like.author.displayName 1 Like

I have an idea how to save millions of babies every year.  We could stop abortions! 

MichaelWeston
MichaelWeston

@JesusFreek 

Why are abortions so bad? 

I see this issue as a way of deflecting away from your own problems. 

JesusFreek
JesusFreek

 @MichaelWeston @JesusFreek 

Your're right.  My mother aborted me twice.  Once in the womb, and once when I was in second grade.  This is exactly why I made the statement above - to deflect from my own problems. :(

TapeisGlueandBacking
TapeisGlueandBacking

The Developing countries need to understand that they don't know the ABC's in which the West has a Phd.


Instead of being disgusted at the West for trying to save (adopt) some of these babies unfortunate enough to be born in a sewer of a country that doesn't even know how to apply an anti-biotic; and instead of removing 'made in the USA' from life-saving drugs out of some cave man mentality that the West is full of evil spirits, the Developing world is the problem, they hate the West and we go along with that narrative.  The result?  Western knowledge is not valued for the great gift to humanity - and babies - that it is.  This directly results in babies and young children suffering, real suffering, around the world, so that the hatred of the West can continue without us saying a word to the contrary.   Hey, all cultures are identical in value, right?  Even those that foster suffering and death for babies because they are taught to hate the West, all the same, no difference?  No, there's a huge difference in cultures.  Western pluralistic open minded culture leads to more babies living happy and healthy and free.  Non-Western cultures are worse than nothing, they are getting in the way, they *cause* the deaths of so many babies, children suffer at the feet of their anit-Western gods of hate.

MorningMist
MorningMist

@TapeisGlueandBacking  Alot of western technics are expensive. They want the medications. Just not at $500 a pill. They want it at the rate it is affordable. Malaria vaccines for example costs around $147 dollars  for 7 pills WITH INSURANCE in the US. Yet malaria is more common in third world countries. If people can even get it at let's say a dollar, it's still expensive, but more affordable than 147 dollars when they barely make $60 a month. People don't hate western technology, they hate they have to pay western prices when they are not making western money. Get it? Without insurance, healthcare in the west is expensive even in western countries. Even with Insurance, you can barely make people afford the basic stuff. Only the rich there can afford to pay into a health insurance program because the insurance is expensive. Even then their insurance will not cover expensive 1000 dollars worth of care if the patient barely makes 400 dollars a month. Countries like that can't print more money out of financial problems. They need to export goods in order to elevate poverty.  You are a racist piece of work. Learn economics before you spout off your racist crap. 

MorningMist
MorningMist

@TapeisGlueandBacking  And don't even for once think that their governments don't subsidize the medications. They do, but there is only so much the government can do. Western pharma companies have been consistently challenging local productions of medications because of patent rights, because those local productions make it at a price that locals can afford. But at the same time they refuse to sell the medications at a price that someone making $60 dollars a month can afford. 

JesusFreek
JesusFreek

@TapeisGlueandBacking  Maybe other countries don't want Dr. West to stick his nose in everybody's business.  If Dr. West would focus on his own problems first, then the rest would work itself out.

JaredBork
JaredBork

It's Survival of the fittest and the rest of the world had way more time to develop, If they would rather be ignorant and believe in ludacris ideas like "gods and tradition" instead of being ignorant they don't deserve the space and limited recourses :P

JesusFreek
JesusFreek

@JaredBork 

"they don't deserve the space and limited recourses"

Uh, yeah.  So if they don't deserve the limited recourses, then our only recourse is to tell them what to do.

I'm assuming that you meant "limited resources".  So if they don't deserve them, then who does?

JaredBork
JaredBork

Hehe remove the "of" before "being" xD ipwned

TapeisGlueandBacking
TapeisGlueandBacking

(I don't mean all non-western cultures, some are neutral or even value Western knowledge.  I'm talking about the idiots.)