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U.S. lags in child health.

The United States is falling further behind other developed nations in key measures of child health, including infant mortality and preventable childhood diseases, a bipartisan national commission reported today.

The findings of the National Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality suggest the nation is unlikely to meet major health goals established by the U.S. Public Health Service for the year 2000.

Among the report's findings:

--The infant mortality rate in 1989, the most recent year for which final figures were available, was 9.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. That was a slight reduction from the previous year's rate of 10 deaths, "but other countries are improving much faster than we are and we are falling further and further behind," said Rae K. Grad, executive director of the commission.

The United States ranks 22nd in the number of babies who die in the first year of life. Japan's rate is less than half the U.S. rate. Black babies die at more than twice the rate of whites.

--The percentage of infants born with low birthweights in 1989 was 7 percent of all births, the highest level since 1978. Infants categorized as low birthweight are 40 times more likely to die within the first month of life.

--The rate of teen pregnancy rose in the late 1980s and by 1989, 13 percent of all births were to women aged 15 to 19.

--Fewer women are receiving prenatal care, which is considered the best method for preventing infant mortality.

--Preventable childhood diseases including measles, mumps, rubella (Gertnan measles) and pertussis (whooping cough) have reached epidemic levels.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Jun 22, 1992
Words:267
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