U.S. Infant Mortality Rate ‘Disproportionately’ Higher Than 16 Other Countries

by Brenda Baletti, Ph.D., Childrens Health Defense:

Children and teens in the U.S. are dying at higher rates than their peers in 16 other high-income countries, according to a research letter published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. The U.S. infant mortality rate consistently exceeds those of other high-income countries.

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Children and teens in the U.S. are dying at higher rates than their peers in 16 other high-income countries, according to a research letter published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University calculated the median mortality rates among children ages 0-19 with rates in Canada, Australia, Japan and several European countries, from 1999 to 2019.

They compared those rates to median mortality rates among the same age groups in the U.S. to identify excess deaths — the number above and beyond those median rates — in the U.S. — and found that in the U.S., there were 413,948 excess deaths among young people during that time.

“Each year, nearly 20,000 deaths among youths ages 0 to 19 years would not have occurred had US youths experienced the median mortality rates of 16 comparison countries,” the authors wrote. “More than half of these deaths involved infants, reflecting disproportionately high US infant mortality rates.”

As young people in the U.S. died at higher rates, the median mortality rates in other countries dropped, widening the gap.

“The chances of a child surviving to age 20 are now decreasing,” Dr. Steven Woolf, the study’s co-author told NBC News.

Where data were available, researchers also examined trends through 2022. That data shows a stepwise increase in deaths among children ages 10 and up starting in 2020 and continuing through 2022.

Beginning in 2010, youths ages 10-19 accounted for an increasing proportion of the deaths, according to the authors. Suicide rates among that age group started rising in 2007, homicides began rising in 2013 and fatal drug overdoses in 2014.

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