Premature Births and Infant Mortality Counterpoint

After reading several recent articles on US premature births and infant mortality in reference to the US health care, I decided to research the facts and data. The US ranks 33rd in the world in infant mortality, an indicator of the health of a nation.

Approximately 13 million worldwide are born premature and 56 million infants die within one year of birth, of which 1 million are premature. The US has 475,000 born premature and 27,000 infants die annually. Premature births occur when the infant is born before the completion of the 37th week of pregnancy.  The question is why the US has the premature birth and infant mortality rates for a nation with advanced health care?

The following are among the factors that could increase the risk of premature birth:

I have tabulated the data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CIA, however it is very spotty (especially on preterm births) and needs more consistent collection (some does not make sense).

Data of Population, Annul Births, Premature Births, Infant Mortality
Premat Premat Infant Infant
Popul. Births Births Births Births Mortal Mortal
Annul Annul Annul Annul Annul Annul
(millions) (1000s) Pop/1000 (1000s) Birth/1000 (1000s) Birth/1000
China 1338.6 18740 14.0 2101 112.1 431 23.0
India 1156.9 25220 21.8 1723 68.3 1387 55.0
U.S. 307.2 4239 13.8 475 112.1 27 6.3
Indonesia 240.3 4518 18.8 386 85.4 120 26.6
Brazil 190.0 3496 18.4 298 85.2 83 23.6
Pakistan 174.6 4819 27.6 258 53.4 325 67.5
Banglad 156.0 3853 24.7 229 59.3 202 52.5
Nigeria 149.2 5476 36.7 29 5.2 600 109.5
Russia 140.0 1554 11.1 233 149.9 26 16.6
Japan 127.1 966 7.6 206 213.2 3 3.2
Germany 82.4 676 8.2 133 197.3 3 4.3
Britan 60.3 645 10.7 97 151.1 3 4.8
Canada 32.5 335 10.3 53 157.1 2 4.8
Afghanist 28.5 1297 45.5 46 35.6 204 157.0
Uganda 26.4 1262 47.8 43 33.8 97 76.9
Australia 19.9 249 12.5 32 129.5 1 4.4
Sum 4229.9 77345 6341 3512.9
World 6796.0 137959 20.3 13000 94.2 56356 40.9
Africa 4047 119
N America 480 106
Asia 6907 91
L America 933 81
Oceania 20 64
Europe 466 62

The data considered are taken from:

It is concluded that the US still rates high for health care, and there is not much that can be changed for preterm births and infant mortality without more societal changes.

Other articles of interest:

Australia and United States Cane Toads Counterpoint

Australia and the United States have a common problem, cane toads. However they are not as well known in the United States as in Australia; also not as extensive a problem. Cane Toads are found in habitats ranging from sand dunes and coastal heath to the margins of mangroves. They are most abundant in open clearings in urban areas, and in grasslands and woodlands. You can encounter and hear them in Florida.


Cane Toads eat almost anything they can swallow, including pet food, and household scraps, but most of their food is living insects. Beetles, honeybees, ants, winged termites, crickets and bugs eaten in abundance. Marine snails, smaller toads and native frogs, small snakes, and small mammals are occasionally eaten by Cane Toads. Because the toads are poisonous, they can kill would-be predators, and therefore have limited predators.

The Cane Toad (a.k.a. Marine Toad or Giant Toad; Bufo marinus) is the largest of the frogs and toads found in Florida. The cane toad is not native to the United States.


 Before 1935, Australia did not have any toad species of its own. What the country did have however, was a major beetle problem. Two species of beetles in particular, French’s Cane Beetle and the Greyback Cane Beetle, were in the process of decimating the northeastern state of Queensland’s sugar cane crops. The anticipated solution to this quickly escalating problem came in the form of the cane toad. The plan backfired completely. Everyone in Australia is in agreement that the cane toads have got to go. A government project involved sending Australian ecologists to the cane toad’s native habitat to determine if there was a specific reason why the toad was not a pest in its original environment. To control the cane toad, one might say, is not that easy?

One group “Kimberley Toad Busters” is a totally volunteer group on the ground fighting to stop the cane toad from crossing into Western Australia. Toad Busting ‘Educational’ training sessions, overcoming cultural boundaries, and families united in the effort to stop the cane toad are the resounding results of the united effort; this brings people together for a good positive force of commitment and concern.

  Learn more about the cane toad. 

What National Geographic has to say?