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U.S. has high rate of first-day deaths for newborns

When Michigan residents hear about birth injuries in the news, they are often surprised that such things happen in U.S. hospitals. While medical care in our country is very advanced, birth injuries and medical mistakes do happen here. In fact, a recent study found that the U.S. is actually worse for newborns than almost 70 other countries. The U.S. has the highest first-day mortality rate of any industrialized country, according to the report released by the Save the Children organization.

Worldwide, one million babies die each year on their day of birth. Here in the U.S., every year 11,000 babies die on the day are born. Save the Children believes that most of these babies could be saved.

Babies who die on the day of birth typically die for one of a few reasons: they were born too early; there were complications at birth; they suffered severe infections; or, they had birth defects.

Save the Children has found that the main issue in the U.S. may be that many babies are born too early, and a significant reason for this is the number of teenage births. Teenage mothers are likely to give weight prematurely, and to give birth to low birth-weight babies. The U.S. currently has the highest teenage birth rate of any industrialized country.

While the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is high, it has fallen in recent years. From 2005 to 2011, it dropped 12 percent; and since 2006 premature births have fallen 8.5 percent.

These rates have improved thanks to a number of changes--including an increase in effective interventions, including health care access, discouraging smoking during pregnancy and providing progesterone treatments to women who have previously experienced a pre-term birth.

One of the most important ways to ensure the health of a baby, of course, is for competent nursing care and hospital care to be available before, during and after the birth.

This is a very complicated issue and there are a number of things that our hospitals, lawmakers and parents themselves should do to help improve this statistic.

Parents whose babies have suffered an injury at birth here in Michigan may want to seek legal counsel to learn whether medical malpractice played any role and whether the hospital can be held accountable.

Source: NBC News, "More US babies die on their first day than in 68 other countries, report shows," Maggie Fox, May 7, 2013

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