The USA has an infant mortality rate of 5 per 1,000, the same as Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Malta. Of 33 developed countries, America is just above Latvia, the bottom of the group.

There could be many reasons why most other developed countries have better infant survival rates than the USA:

— Health care provision in the USA is more patchy than in most industrialised nations. Health insurance in the USA covers a smaller percentage of the population when compared to other rich countries.

— Maternity leave is shorter in the USA than in most industrialised countries

— Wealth distribution is more evenly spread among most industrialised nations, when compared to the USA. The USA has larger pockets of poverty. Infant mortality among African-Americans is 9 per 1,000 – closer to third world rates than developed country rates.

Obesity rates among pregnant women are much higher in the USA than in other industrialised countries.

It is not possible to say that countries with a smaller population do better, as Japan, with a population of over 130 million is top; Germany, France and Italy are in group B (see list below).

For many in the USA – statistics which persistently show their country lagging behind others in health – this is an enigma. America is at the forefront of medical innovation, it has some of the most sophisticated equipment in the world, many of the best doctors from around the world end up working in the United States. So why can’t it keep up?

When compared to the top of the group, Japan, with 1.8 deaths per 1000 infants, the USA has fallen a long way behind.

It is interesting to note that not one English-speaking country appears in the top 14. Is there something in the lifestyles of Americans, the Brits and Irish, Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders?

Below you can see the list of newborn deaths per 1,000 live births in the top 33 industrialised countries. They are grouped from A to F. Each group is listed alphabetically.

A – Japan 1.8/1000
B – Czech Rep 2/1000
B – Finland 2/1000
B – Iceland 2/1000
B – Norway 2/1000
C – Austria 3/1000
C – France 3/1000
C – Germany 3/1000
C – Israel 3/1000
C – Italy 3/1000
C – Luxembourg 3/1000
C – Portugal 3/1000
C – Slovenia 3/1000
C – Spain 3/1000
D – Australia 4/1000
D – Belgium 4/1000
D – Canada 4/1000
D – Denmark 4/1000
D – Estonia 4/1000
D – Greece 4/1000
D – Ireland 4/1000
D – Lithuania 4/1000
D – Netherlands 4/1000
D – New Zealand 4/1000
D – Switzerland 4/1000
D – United Kingdom 4/1000
E – Hungary 5/1000
E – Malta 5/1000
E – Poland 5/1000
E – Slovakia 5/1000
E – USA – 5/1000
F – Latvia 6/1000

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today