The report used figures from the National Vital Statistics System of birth and death records for children's first year of life across 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to NCHS health statistician and report author Danielle Ely.
"Although the U.S. continually had higher infant death rates than other high-income countries, the country had seen a 22 percent decline in child deaths before this report," Ely told USA Today.
Ely added that the provisional figures will be finalized in a report expected next spring but its authors decided to release the data early to provide a warning to healthcare providers and officials on the growing trend.
"The American infant mortality rate of 5.6 per 1,000 births is about three times as high as Norway's, which El-Mohandes said is notable but is more alarming that the U.S. has been unable to significantly reduce its mortality rate below what it was in 2000," noted Dr. Ayman El Mohandes, dean of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy.
Researchers involved in the report have found the following:
Infant deaths were significantly higher in some states – Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
"The health of the baby is often directly related to the health of the mother," said Neonatal and Perinatal Medicine Director Dr. Dennis Costakos at the Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
USA Today reported on the death of a baby boy delivered by a teenage mother in fetal distress at 25 weeks gestation, despite the doctors' efforts at resuscitating the infant with cardiac compressions, chest tubes, ventilation and other methods. The neonatologist later on discovered that the mother had a previously undiagnosed case of syphilis.
Health experts raise concerns because the U.S. has ignored the increased maternal mortality rate during pregnancy, delivery and after giving birth from 2018 to 2021 – with the highest rates of pregnancy-related deaths in Black and American Indian, Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women.
A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report indicated that:
"This is unacceptable. We know mistreatment and discrimination can have a negative impact on the quality of maternity care. We have to encourage a culture of respectful maternity care. This should be part of greater efforts to improve quality by standardizing care to reduce complications and deaths related to pregnancy and delivery," CDC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Debra Houry said.
"Keeping women and children in good health has to be a conscientious, proactive undertaking. There needs to be (an) investment in the safeguards in order to support families to reduce infant mortality," said Georgia Machell, interim president and CEO of the National WIC Association, a nonprofit that represents nutrition service provider agencies that implement the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
Watch this report about infant mortality rate increasing for the first time in two decades.
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