In a new study of childhood mortality rates between 1961 and 2010 in the United States and 19 economically similar countries, researchers report that while there's been overall improvement among all the countries, the USA has been slowest to improve.
As numerous analyses and studies have shown over the years, the lack of a universal healthcare system in the us has led to higher mortality rates and poorer healthcare outcomes than in countries that have robust systems that cover all people.
A report of the findings, published January 8 in Health Affairs, highlights when and why the U.S.'s performance started falling behind peer countries, and calls for continued funding of federal, state and local programs that have proven to save children's lives.
Leading causes of infant death during the most recent decade were premature births and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Children in the USA were three times more likely to die from prematurity at birth and more than twice as likely to die from SIDS.
In the United States, the two leading causes of death for teens aged 15 to 19 were motor vehicle crashes and gun violence.
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The reasons the US has fallen behind include higher poverty rates relative to other developed countries and a relatively weak social safety net, says lead author Ashish Thakrar, medical resident at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System.
"Now is not the time to defund the programs that support our children's health", Thakrar added in a news release from Johns Hopkins Medicine. While the USA spends the most on health care per capita compared to OECD nations, some of them have stronger public benefits programs, Thakrar says.
The study which comes in front shares that if the United State will have taken the necessary steps to comes out of this situation, the number of child death from 1961 to 2010 will not be a point of shock at all.
The study examined child mortality rates between 1961 and 2010 in the USA and comparable nations in the OECD, a group of 35 countries, founded to improve economic development and social well-being around the world. The members include Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Italy and Germany, among others, which have similar levels of economic development.
The researchers analyzed mortality and population data from the Human Mortality Database and mortality and cause of death data from the World Health Organization for all children 0 to 19 years old from 1961 to 2010.
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In all of the countries, about 90 percent of child deaths occurred among infants and older teens (aged 15 to 19).
As for older children in the United States - those aged 1 to 19 - their risk of dying before adulthood is 57 percent greater than in other wealthy countries.
"The findings show that in terms of protecting child health, we're very far behind where we could be", says Christopher Forrest, M.D., Ph.D., the study's senior author and a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Forrest added, "We hope that policymakers can use these findings to make strategic public health decisions for all USA children to ensure that we don't fall further behind peer nations". The Trump administration has proposed substantial cuts to health programs that help children, most notably the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which serves 9 million children. For older children, the US death rate during that decade was essentially the same as the average rate in the other countries: 6.7 per 10,000.
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