What Kills Babies?

Let’s start with the CDC’s statistics on infant mortality.

Babies in the US are not that likely to die. The infant mortality rate is 5.96 per 1000 live births, or about 0.6%.

Most of the risk is in neonatal mortality, deaths within the first month of life.  That has a death rate of 4 per 1000.  The whole rest of the first year only has a death rate of 1.93 per 1000.  67% of all infant deaths are in the first month of life.

The top cause of infant mortality, at 20.4% of all infant deaths, is “congenital malformations and chromosomal abnormalities.”

#2, at 17.4% of all infant deaths, is “complications of short gestation and low birth weight.”

#3, at 6.8% of all infant deaths, is “newborn affected by maternal complications of pregnancy.”

#4, at 6.7% of all infant deaths and a rate of 3.97 per 1000, is SIDS.

#5, at 4.5% of all infant deaths, is accidents.

#6, at 4.1% of all infant deaths, is complications of placenta or cord.

#7, at 2.5% of all infant deaths, is bacterial sepsis of newborn.

#8, at 2.2% of all infant deaths, is respiratory distress of newborn.

#9, at 2.0% of all infant deaths, is circulatory system disease.

#10, at 1.7% of all infant deaths, is neonatal hemorrhage.

So, you can see right here, that a big chunk of what kills babies has to do with things that occur during pregnancy: birth defects, premature babies, and complications of pregnancy.

The main stuff you can do about these problems has been covered earlier on this blog. Be in general good vascular health and neither underweight nor overweight; don’t smoke; treat your gum disease and vaginosis; take your folic acid; wash hands frequently and avoid dirt and raw meat;  avoid high-risk medications, lead, mercury, and hot tubbing.

Congenital heart defects are the type of birth defect that causes the most deaths.  They can be treatable with surgery, but usually require lifelong specialist care.

Neonatal sepsis is an infection that comes either from the mother or from the hospital. If from the mother, this can be prevented by testing for disease, esp. herpes and streptococcus.  If from the hospital, this can be prevented by avoiding long hospital stays when possible.

Neonatal respiratory distress is a condition of premature babies in which their lungs do not produce enough surfactant so they cannot breathe.  Avoiding prematurity can help prevent this.

I’ll be looking into some of these risks in further posts.