F. Edward Yazbak,
TL Autism Research, Falmouth, Massachusetts 02540 USA
It was recently reported that the infant mortality rate (IMR) in the United States increased in 2001-2002.
Commenting on that report (1), Nancy S. Green, Medical Director of the March of Dimes stated on January 24, 2005: "The infant mortality rate is an extremely important figure, as it is one of the most accurate measures of the health of society. This was the first rise in the infant mortality rate since 1958, and it may be a harbinger of worsening health conditions for America’s babies. The infant mortality rate in the United States is worse than that of most other affluent nations…”
We must all share Dr. Green’s deep concern about the continued increase in the number of premature births in the United States and we certainly applaud her efforts in calling for a conference on this important issue. But the increase in IMR is not only due to the increase in the number of premature and low birth weight infants and we must find out what else is causing such increase in a country spending more on health care than any other.
What is even more alarming and disturbing is the fact that even when the IMR in the United States was “decreasing” in the last four decades, the IMR in other countries was decreasing at A FASTER RATE. (2)
In 1997, Gerard Anderson, PhD, Professor of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (2) reported that:
1. While the infant mortality rate in the U.S. declined to 8.0 per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 1995, the US ranked 23rd out of 29 industrialized countries because other countries had shown more rapid improvement in reducing infant mortality.
2. The U.S. spent 14.2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care in 1996. Germany, the next closest country, spent 10.5 percent.
3. In the same year, the U.S. spent the most per capita on health care services ($3,708 US per person). Switzerland with $2,412 (US) per person was next.
In 2000, the United States had the highest IMR – 6.9 per 1000 live births - among the G7 Nations. (3)
Japan had the lowest at 3.2/1000 followed by Germany (4.4/1000), Italy (4.5/1000), France (4.6/1000), Canada (5.3/1000) and the United Kingdom (5.6/1000).
A listing of the estimated 2004 worldwide Infant Mortality Rates (4) has just been updated and published (January 27, 2005). Nations were listed in order of decreasing IMR. Angola, listed first (#1), had an estimated rate of 192.50 per 1000. In Singapore, listed last (#226) the IMR was the lowest in the world, with 2.28 infant deaths per 1000 live births.
The United States was listed as # 185 (6.63/1000).
Among nations with lower IMR were Cuba (#187), Faroe Islands (#188), Isle of Man (#190), Aruba (# 191), and Gibraltar (#199).
The United Kingdom was listed as # 200 with an IMR of 5.22/1000. Among nations with lower IMR rates were Liechtenstein (#206), Slovenia (#211), Czech Republic (#218), Macau (#214) and Malta (#219).
It is important that I state that professionally, my primary concern is and has always been the health and welfare of infants and children. I have had extensive training in infectious diseases and have served as the Assistant Clinical Director of a leading (US) Infectious Diseases Hospital. I am pro-reasonable vaccination, a fact that appears to upset people on both sides of the vaccination debate.
In 2005, more vaccines will be administered to infants under age 1 in the United States (5) than in any other country. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and presumably the CDC, the recommended schedule calls for 3 doses of Hepatitis B vaccine, the first at “Birth”, 3 doses of DTAP (nine antigens), 3 doses of HIB, 3 doses of IPV, 3 doses of Prevnar (our 7-valent pneumococcal vaccine) and one dose of Influenza vaccine.
It is also safe to state that in the last four decades, no other country has consistently administered more vaccines to infants and children than the United States.
I am not suggesting that infants in the United States are dying at a higher rate than those in Cuba and the Faroe Islands because we are vaccinating them so much more. I am only making the simple observation that although we are spending enormous funds on health care and we are administering all these vaccines, it certainly does NOT appear that we are increasing our infants' chances to reach their first birthday.
Now this does disturb me immensely. I suspect that it must disturb others also.
Perhaps Bill Gates should look at the above data on one of his many computers and consider donating some of his charitable dollars to investigate whether some vaccines can affect certain children negatively. For sure, the CDC, the DOH in the United Kingdom and the vaccine manufacturers are not about to do that any time soon.
Lastly, while he is still in a generous mood, Mr. Gates should consider supporting research investigating the environmental causes of regressive autism, the ONLY REAL EPIDEMIC in the United States today.
Charity does begin at home.
1. http://search.marchofdimes.com/cgi- bin/MsmGo.exe?grab_id=382&page_id=4128768&query=Infant+Mortality+Rate&hiword=INFANCY+INFANTS+Infant+MORTALITIES+Mortality+RATED+RATES+Rate+
3. http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rma/dpr/02-03/HLTH-SANT/HLTH- SANT03D07_e.asp#chart4
Competing interests: Grandfather of a child with regressive autism