Printer Friendly

Guns or babies?

As military spending increases, infant mortality rates increase as well, according to an analysis of data from 141 countries by Harvard and Boston University researchers. The relationship held for underdeveloped, middle developed and developed nations, they report in the June 14 LANCET. While the study shows a correlation and not a causation, the researchers say it is "highly plausible" that a causal link exists, since money spent on the military is unavailable for social programs that could decrease infant mortality.

The researchers considered 22 economic, social, health and military spending indicators independently. While the analysis did not permit a ranking of the factors, it did indicate which ones were strong enough to affect infant mortality, says Davis U. Himmelstein of Harvard.

As with previous studies, low infant mortality was linked with clean water, adequate nutrition and a high level of education in the country. The researchers looked at data from 1972 and 1979 and found that an increase in arms spending led to an increase in the infant mortality rate. A reduction in economic development, health resources and social spending was also related to a higher incidence of infant deaths.

Military spending is a "highly significant predictor of infant mortality," says Himmelstein. In Japan, which spends less than 1 percent of its gross national product on the military, the infant mortality rate is about 6 deaths before the age of one year per 1,000 live births, while the United States, with a 6 percent military spending rate, has an infant mortality rate of about 11 per 1,000, he points out. "The study suggests a good deal of the difference may be due to military spending," says Himmelstein.

But authors of several letters in the July 6 LANCET claim there is not enough evidence to support a direct causal relationship.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:infant mortality increases as military spending increases
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 20, 1985
Previous Article:AIDS update.
Next Article:Lions and tigers and cats, oh no.

Related Articles
Youngest mothers' infants have greatly elevated risk of dying by age one. (Digests).
"Are you beginning to see a pattern here?" Family and medical discourses shape the story of black infant mortality.
Does race figure in maternal and infant death?
Birth weight linked to infant mortality.
Improving birth outcomes.
Breastfeeding and babies' lives.
Our children's well-being.
World infant mortality rates released.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters