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U.S. Infant Mortality Rate: International Comparisons, Underlying Factors, and Federal Programs
Elayne J. Heisler (au)
The infant mortality rate (IMR) äóî the number of deaths occurring in the first year of life per 1,000 live births äóî is a widely used proxy for the health status of a nation, and is commonly used for international comparisons. As of 2008, the U.S. IMR was 6.6, a historically low rate of the U.S., but higher than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average of 4.6. The relatively high U.S. rate äóî and the number of infant deaths it indicates äóî concerns some policymakers. In addition, there is concern that the U.S. IMR has leveled off after four decades of decline. Reducing the U.S. IMR continues to be a recognized public health objective. Researchers and policymakers debate the various factors that may explain the high U.S. IMR relative to other developed countries and its recent stagnation. This report examines the U.S. IMR. It identifies the top three causes of U.S. infant death äóî congenital malformations, disorders related to low birthweight and short gestational age, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The report focuses on low birthweight and short gestational age, because the U.S. has relatively high and increasing rates of these births, and research has found that these births can be reduced through policy interventions. Tables and figures. This is a print on demand report.
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