In a fascinating article in Slate.com, tied with Malta and Slovakia for the second-worst infant-mortality rate among developed nations. He points out that most blame this on the lack of adequate health-care funding in the U. S.; on the contrary, he says, “a closer look reveals the counterintuitive possibility that high infant mortality in the United States might be the unintended side effect of increased spending on medical care.”
Infant deaths in poor nations are roughly six times more common than in developed areas and result mainly from easily treated infections like diarrhea in the first few months. By contrast, the majority of deaths in developed countries result from extreme prematurity or birth defects that kill a newborn in the first few days or weeks of life. According to a 2002 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least a third of all infant mortality in the United States arises from complications of prematurity; other studies assert the figure is closer to half.
But modern medicine isn’t good at preventing prematurity—just the opposite. Better and more affordable medical care actually has worsened the rate of prematurity, and likely the rate of infant mortality, by making fertility treatment widespread.