“The infant mortality rate (IMR) is one of the most important measures of child health and overall development in countries. Clean water, increased nutritional measures, better sanitation, and easy access to health care contribute the most to improving infant mortality rates in unclean, undernourished, and impoverished regions of the world. In developing nations, IMRs are high because these basic necessities for infant survival are lacking or unevenly distributed. Infectious and communicable diseases are more common in developing countries as well, though sound sanitary practices and proper nutrition would do much to prevent them.
The World Health Organization (WHO) attributes 7 out of 10 childhood deaths in developing countries to five main causes: pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, malaria, and malnutrition—the latter greatly affecting all the others. Malnutrition has been associated with a decrease in immune function. An impaired immune function often leads to an increased susceptibility to infection. It is well established that infections, no matter how mild, have adverse effects on nutritional status. Conversely, almost any nutritional deficiency will diminish resistance to disease.
Despite the United States spending more per capita on health care than any other country, 33 nations have better IMRs. Some countries have IMRs that are less than half the US rate: Singapore, Sweden, and Japan are below 2.80. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ‘The relative position of the United States in comparison to countries with the lowest infant mortality rates appears to be worsening.’
There are many factors that affect the IMR of any given country. For example, premature births in the United States have increased by more than 20% between 1990 and 2006. Preterm babies have a higher risk of complications that could lead to death within the first year of life. However, this does not fully explain why the United States has seen little improvement in its IMR since 2000.
Nations differ in their immunization requirements for infants aged less than 1 year. In 2009, five of the 34 nations with the best IMRs required 12 vaccine doses, the least amount, while the United States required 26 vaccine doses, the most of any nation.”
— Neil Z. Miller and Gary S. Goldman
Courtesy: The Outliers