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Tuesday, October 3rd 2006

Infant Mortality Linked To Lifestyle…Kind've…

The infant mortality figures are the cornerstone of the “we’re paying for more than we’re getting in quality” argument. New data however lends further circumstantial evidence that America’s infant mortality may have less to do with the quality of obstetrical care provided than other factors. More infant deaths are related to prematurity (which has a strong correlation with personal health choices) than originaly suspected.

Prematurity is the direct cause of death for half of those who die in the first month of life, and also for 95% of those who are delivered before the 32nd week of pregnancy, according to the report in the journal Pediatrics.

“What this says is that we need to focus a lot more effort on prevention and the study of what leads to prematurity,” said Dr. Gabriel Escobar of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, who was not associated with the study.

“In the United States, the death rate in term babies without congenital anomalies is approaching zero,” he said. “If we want to save babies, we have to focus on preemies.”

And that means focusing on the mothers, said the study’s leader, Dr. William M. Callaghan of the Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are approaching the limits of technology to keep the infants alive,” he said.

Conceded, there may be major health care access issues here in terms of pregnant mothers but stepping back from it, so many enviornmental and choice factors contribute to premature births…including…wait for it, being overweight!

Like I keep repeating, America’s poor health has potentially way more to do with a lack of individual responsibility than it does with health care access or poor health care quality.