Saturday, October 22, 2011

An Inconvenient Truth...

Surveying the back section of First Things (why don't you subscribe) I found this interesting tidbit on the statistics of neonatal mortality.  It seems that the US ranks 41st (yes, you read that right, forty-first) down from the top of the list of deaths of infants in the first four weeks after birth.  Yes, 41st -- tied with Croatia!  Can it be?  Can it be that infant mortality in the USA is so far behind our neighbors to the north (Canada) or Australia or New Zealand or Israel or Japan or South Korea or Singapore?  Or is there something more to this?

In article in National Review, James Atlas of Stanford Medical Center says something is not right here.  He thinks that the problem may be that fact that a lot of countries do not count the deaths in the same way.  Some, including some in Europe -- like Belgium, France, and Spain -- don't count a baby as born alive until that baby lives a certain period of time following birth (not the definition of the WHO that collects such stats).

So perhaps 30% of these infant deaths go uncounted since the baby does not live long enough to be counted as having been born a live.... read that sentence a couple of times.... hmmmmmm - did not live long enough to be counted as born alive???

This is not about where the USA ranks on a list.  This is about the value attached to life -- a meter that does not begin running until the baby has made it around the block on his or her own first.  Never mind that the child has been alive for nine months in the womb.  Never mind that a live birth is just that -- a live birth -- no matter how long that life endures.  Hmmmmm... there is something here that is most distressing.  If we can do this to the beginning of life, can it be long before we will declare a life over when it ceases to fit the definition of a well lived life?  You do the thinking!

8 comments:

Ted Badje said...

How Western European countries define live births may be Draconian, but what I got out of the article is how healthcare can be improved in the United States. I don't think Obamacare or single payer is the answer. In comparing ourselves to other nations is like comparing apples to oranges. We are a very mobile society compared to Europe and the developed countries. We have the problem of counting people who have entered here illegally. We also have alot of births from unwed mothers, with the poverty and personal turmoil often associated with that. There are a lot of structural issues in our society to consider when we want to improve healthcare.

Sage said...

Ah yes, statistical significance. If you aren't comparing the same thing to the same thing, you might as well toss numbers in the air and guess. That's the problem with analysis, so many times controls are conveniently forsaken to further an agenda.

Back to the meat of the story, yes, children's lives are not deemed worth counting until they reach a certain point. You can count on forthcoming statistics from the experts justifying the termination of lives due to "non-viability".

Colleen said...

Actually, if you watch the documentary "The Business of Being Born" - which I recommend to ANYONE - it shows that our neonatal death rate is so high because of all the unnecessary measures that hospitals and Dr's take when delivering babies. EVERY baby gets pitocin and an epidural, cesareans are being pushed more and more, and more and more babies are having reactions to these things, these unnatural measures and medicines that they are dying more and more. Rarely now is a woman allowed to actually give birth - she's put on a drug cycle to "help" the baby whether she likes it or not.

That's why our death rate is so high. It wasn't that way until we started using these things on a normal basis instead of letting women give birth in their own time, and ONLY using medicines like pitocin if they are absolutely needed.

You should really watch that movie - my husband and I own it and show it to as many people as possible!

Anonymous said...

The US population is significantly diverse in ways unlike the other countries to which it is compared. However, all of the subgroups in the US have better outcomes than their peers in their places of origin, ie., Japanese Americans do better than Japanese in Japan.

What I don't understand is the huge difference between Slovakia and the Czech Republic. How does that happen?

Anonymous said...

In other health news, white babies are at least twice as likely to die of SIDS than hispanic or Asian babies. Our health system is a failure!!!! And other hysterical claims.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/10/15/us/racial-disparities-in-infant-mortality.html?ref=us

Anonymous said...

In the 1950's infant mortality was calculated per 100 births. Now it is calculated per 1000. Back then 3% died. Now 0.7% die. This is a tiny fraction.

Let's consider that once you get to the extreme margin, any further improvements will be extremely difficult.

As Christians, I am sure we all know someone who has been told her baby has a fatal defect, and yet carried that baby and loved him till his natural death. That child died during his first year of life for statistical purposes. In most cases, these women are pressured to abort him, so in that case he would not be counted and that country can proudly lift its nose in the air that its children are healthier. Okay, the perfect ones who aren't murdered probably have the same chance here as in any of those other "better" countries where there are fewer Christians who will not kill an imperfect baby but will love him till natural death.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_infant_mortality_rate

Terry Maher said...

Why don't I subscribe? You must be joking. Although the current editor is an Episcopalian prof at "Catholic" Creighton here in Omaha -- until just like its founder hr became a postconciliar convert from a denomination with a liturgical tradition who found a denomination with smells and bells more to his liking and you can think yourself silly to boot and call it intellectual or spiritual or whatever. A religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society -- yeah right.

Fallhiker said...

Remember Statistics is the art of proving anything you want to prove by adjusting the numbers to say what you want them to say!