There’s more bad news for the U.S. on the infant mortality front: The U.S. ranks last of 26 countries in infant mortality: 6.1 per 1,000 live births, versus 2.5 in Sweden, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Infant mortality refers to the death of a baby before his first birthday. The proportion of pre-term births explains 39 percent of the difference between U.S. and Swedish outcomes, because the U.S. has a large proportion of pre-term births. This has led some to question the validity of the international comparison, because some countries measure very pre-term births (before 24 weeks differently). It has been argued that the U.S. will consider a baby born alive, who might be considered stillborn in another country, thereby making our infant mortality statistics look artificially worse.
This CDC study also looks only at babies born after 24 weeks, thus seeking to avoid that problem. The U.S. does quite well for babies born at 24 to 27 weeks of gestation. However, as gestation lengthened to normal term, the U.S. performance drops significantly.
Regrettably, other evidence points to large racial disparities in the U.S., with black babies doing especially poorly. Nevertheless, even if we exclude black babies, white, Hispanic, and Asian U.S. babies appear to do worse than in other countries.