The high US infant mortality canard

Another chapter in the “lies, damn lies and statistics” is the repeated claim from proponents of European-style socialized medicine that the US has the highest infant mortality rate of any first world country.  This is a scathing indictment, implicating American poverty, racism, prenatal and post-natal care.  The only problem is that it’s completely false, and is based on the fact that Europe, when it does its infant mortality statistics, ignores fragile infants that were doomed from their live births:

Infant mortality rates are often cited as a reason socialized medicine and a single-payer system is supposed to be better than what we have here. But according to Dr. Linda Halderman, a policy adviser in the California State Senate, these comparisons are bogus.

As she points out, in the U.S., low birth-weight babies are still babies. In Canada, Germany and Austria, a premature baby weighing less than 500 grams is not considered a living child and is not counted in such statistics. They’re considered “unsalvageable” and therefore never alive.

Norway boasts one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world — until you factor in weight at birth, and then its rate is no better than in the U.S.

In other countries babies that survive less than 24 hours are also excluded and are classified as “stillborn.” In the U.S. any infant that shows any sign of life for any length of time is considered a live birth.

A child born in Hong Kong or Japan that lives less than a day is reported as a “miscarriage” and not counted. In Switzerland and other parts of Europe, a baby is not counted as a baby if it is less than 30 centimeters in length.