CNN’s headline this hour is a study just released by Save the Children, which among other things reveals that the US has a higher infant mortality rate than the rest of the industrialized nations. What the story doesn’t really explain is that the US’s rate is 5/1,000, while the majority of the other developed nations are 3-4/1,000 live births. Buried farther down in the story is the fact that African-American neonatal mortality rate is 9.3/1,000. Hmm. Wonder if that’s skewing it at all. Without saying anything about who’s responsible, or what the government should or should not do, I do think that the higher rate of teen pregnancy and drug use, with all the associated complications, might have something to do with these numbers. After all, as the study observes, the US has more NICUs and neonatologists than Canada or the UK, whose rate is 4/1,000. And all babies have at least initial access to doctors and the NICU, regardless of their mother’s poverty.

The other thing that makes me take a very jaundiced view of this study is all the other factors they were looking at. The whole study is called “State of the World’s Mothers,” and includes a “Mother’s Index,” which is based on the following “indicators”: [meaningful] lifetime risk of maternal mortality, percent of births attended by skilled personnel, adult female literacy rate, percentage of pregnant women with anemia, etc. [biased] percentage of women using modern contraception, participation of women in national government. Ok, those last two are not real! What if the women don’t want contraception? This reminds me of the pilot episode of Strong Medicine which a friend showed me last night, where the high-powered female oncologist tries to force the 37-yr-old woman with the BRCA gene to have her ovaries removed right now, even though she doesn’t have any children yet. A mindset which approves of multiple children, and doesn’t want to run the government, is foreign to the bureaucrats at the UN. (And yes, I know about girls being married in their early teens and having lots of kids really early, which is not a good idea either; but my spin detector tells me this study has a few ideological flaws.)

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