Section 1, Article 5 - Infant mortality statistics identify the number of children who die before their first birthday. Typically it is measured in the number of deaths per one thousand live births (each year). The United States ranks 169th in the world with 6.17 deaths per 1,000 live births (The World Factbook). In 2013, 23,440 children died in the United States before reaching their first birthday. The top causes of infant deaths worldwide are: “preterm birth (28%), severe infections (26%), and birth asphyxia (23%)” (Frisbie, 2009, p. 266). Frisbie goes on to say that while a family’s standard of living has an impact on infant survival, maternal prenatal and post-natal care appears to be a more significant factor. Interestingly, infant and child mortality is also linked to a number of factors beyond basic healthcare including attitudes (what value the society places on children’s lives), wealth (or a lack thereof), hygiene, availability of clean water and nutritious food, and annual rainfall (Frisbie, 2009). Although the infant mortality rate has dropped in recent years, it is still far too high. Although 99.9% of newborns in developed nations survive to see adulthood (Berger, 2014), many children in the world’s poorest countries still die from preventable causes. Better nutrition, health care (including immunizations), and public health measures such as providing clean water, will help close this gap.
When ranking the top ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, number one on the list was vaccinations (U.S. Centers for Disease Control). Immunizations have completely eradicated smallpox (worldwide), eliminated polio in the United States, and has helped control measles, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria and more (U.S. Centers for Disease Control). While most people recognize the life-saving value of immunizations, there is some controversy related to which vaccines are necessary, whether mandatory vaccinations should be required, and whether or not to be concerned about adverse reactions. Most doctors believe that the current vaccination schedule is safe, effective, and that the benefits far exceed any risks.
Each year 3.1 million children die from causes related to malnutrition. While most assume that these statistics indicate that these children have starved to death, this is not always the case. More often, deaths occur because the things they are eating do not provide adequate nutrition for them to grow strong. Because they are malnourished, diseases that might otherwise be minor become life-threatening. In some areas where clean water is not readily available, a mother may choose to give the baby formula mixed with contaminated water causing the baby to die from dysentery.
There are a number of diseases children suffer when they are malnourished. If a child is eating, but deprived of the protein needed for growth and development, they may develop stunting which means they will be short for their age, or wasting (the child is severely underweight for their age). While both of these conditions are very serious, there are others that take an even greater toll on health and well-being. First, malnutrition may impact brain development. Second, malnutrition may cause a child to be more susceptible to and suffer more with common diseases. They do not have the reserves within their body needed to fight these diseases. Finally, marasmus and kwashiorkor are serious diseases that can be caused by malnutrition.
Each year, 4,000 seemingly healthy infants fall asleep, but never wake up. The cause? Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS has no known cause or cure. Although there is no known cause or cure for SIDS, there are specific preventative measures that are recommended. As stated before, no cause or cure is presently available, but a discovery made in 1988 provided a recommendation that, when implemented, has seen the incidence of SIDS decrease dramatically. When an infant is placed on his or her back to sleep, their chance of dying is greatly reduced.