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US among nations with low newborn survival rate

In a sobering message to the world's superpower, US has been relegated to the bottom of the pile among industrialised nations.

india Updated: May 11, 2006 02:39 IST

In a sobering message to the world's superpower, the United States has been relegated to the bottom of the pile among industrialised nations with one of the lowest survival rates for newborns.

Of the 33 industrialised nations, the United States is tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of five per 1000 babies. Only Latvia is slightly better off with a rate of six per 1000.

"We are the wealthiest country in the world, but there are still pockets of our population who are not getting the health care they need," said Mary Beth Powers, a reproductive health adviser for US-based 'Save the Children', which put out the report and rankings based on health data.

Even within the United States, the ranking is driven by racial and health care disparities. There are nine deaths per 1000 live births in the African American community or closer to rates in developing nations as it is being pointed out.

Statistics have shown Japan as having the lowest newborn death rate, 1.8 per 1000, and four countries tied for second place with 2 per 1000 - the Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland and Norway.

The highest rates globally were in Africa and South Asia. With a newborn death rate of 65 out of 1000 live births, Liberia ranked the worst while in South Asia, Pakistan registered 58 deaths per 1000 live births.

The report found that about half a million babies are born prematurely every year in the US with African American babies twice as likely as white infants to be premature, to have a low birth-weight and to die at birth.

Factors such as these can lead to poor health care before and during pregnancy, increasing risks for premature births and low birth weight, which are the leading causes of newborn death in industrialised countries.

In the United States, other potential factors could include teenage pregnancies and obesity. But the chief cause in the developing world is infections, the report said.