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:

Solar Power/Energy Counterpoint

Solar Power/Energy refers to the utilization of the radiant energy from the Sun. It refers more specifically to the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either by photovoltaics or concentrating solar thermal devices. The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the Earth is so vast that in one year it is about twice as much as will ever be obtained from all of the Earth’s non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combined.

As of 2007, the total installed capacity of solar hot water systems is approximately 154 GW. China is the world leader in their deployment with 70 GW installed as of 2006. Chinese government officials signed an agreement on Tuesday (9/8/09) with First Solar, an American solar developer, for a 2,000-megawatt photovoltaic farm to be built in the Mongolian desert. Israel is the per capita leader in the use of solar hot water systems with 90% of homes using them.

Photovoltaics (PV) has mainly been used to power small and medium-sized applications, from the calculator powered by a single solar cell to off-grid homes powered by a photovoltaic array. Germany, Japan, US, and Spain have become the leaders in the PV market. It is expected that by 2009 over 90% of commercial photovoltaics, installed in the United States, will be installed using a power purchase agreement. Grid parity (cost), the point at which photovoltaic electricity is equal to or cheaper than grid power, is achieved first in areas with abundant sun and high costs for electricity such as in California, Hawaii, and Japan. It is not common knowledge, but George W. Bush has set 2015 as the date for grid parity in the USA. Here are some examples of large-scale photovoltaic power plants and here are some more.

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. The concentrated light is then used as a heat source for a conventional power plant.

Storage is an important issue in the development of solar energy because modern energy systems usually assume continuous availability of energy. Solar energy is not available at night, and the performance of solar power systems is affected by unpredictable weather patterns; therefore, storage media or back-up power systems must be used.

Solar installations in recent years have also largely begun to expand into residential areas, with governments offering incentive programs to make “green” energy a more economically viable option. The program allows residential homeowner installations to sell the energy they produce back to the electrical power grid. It has now been stated by the chairman of the 2008 European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference that photovoltaics can cover all the world energy demand.

The Solar Electric Power Association made a statement concerning the historical announcement that “The Pacific Gas and Electric Utility (PG&E) will develop two photovoltaic (PV) power plants equivalent to almost double the amount of current U.S. grid-connected PV capacity”.

Florida Power and Light (FP&L) unveils the plans to build Florida’s first large-scale solar thermal power plant (CPS), one of the largest such plants in the world. It also announced new solar energy projects that include the world’s largest photovoltaic solar plant and first “hybrid” energy center, coupling solar thermal technology with an existing combined-cycle generation unit.

As can be seen from the brief “Solar Power/Energy Counterpoint” facts article, solar energy is becoming one of the most viable alternatives for electric power generation. We don’t hear much about it, but it has the possibilities of playing an important part in the new energy resources available without much say-so from known government programs (except for insentives).

Of interest are the candidate’s views on technological issues: Energy, Climate change, Space program, skilled worker shortage, and technology.

Some more interesting articles:

  1. A Solar Grand Plan.
  2. Are solar photovoltaics just to costly?
  3. Solar Cell Production Jumps 50 Percent in 2007.
  4. Solar Power: The Pros and Cons of Solar Power.
  5. Machine Design Editorial: The Economics of Renewable Energy