Infant mortality rates highest in Republican leaning states

The bottom ten states by ranking are

1. Mississippi 11.4/1000
2. Louisiana 10.1/1000
3. South Carolina  9.4/1000
4. Alabama  9.4/1000
5. Delaware  9.0/1000
6. Tennessee  8.9/1000
7. North Carolina  8.8/1000
8. Ohio  8.3/1000
9. Georgia  8.2/1000
10.West Virginia  8.1/1000

    We need a public option in health care reform, preferably a single payer plan, and we need it now.

    We have to fight for quality public health care as if our lives depend on it. Literally. Lives depend on it.

    Sadly, the District of Columbia has the highest percentage of Infant Mortality, with 14.1/1000

    Infant mortality is defined as the number of deaths of infants (one year of age or less) per 1000 live births.  

    If the best indicator of the policies followed by our political leaders is the quality of health, education and prosperity that their constituents enjoy, we can safely say that our nations private health care system and Republican leadership have failed miserably.


    Many factors effect the infant mortality rate. First and foremost among these factors are the availability of medicine and health care to the public itself, and the amount of wealthy or poverty in which that population lives.

    In instances like this many issues seem to converge. Racism, empathy, health care reform, poverty, the economy, all these issues add up to this sad fact; the same people who fear empathy, reverse racism, health care reform and all the strawmen they can raise do not care one bit about the fact that American infants die at a higher rate than any other nation of our stature that has a single payer public health care system and a strong social safety net for those who are less fortunate than others.

    In this case, personal responsibility literally translates into “if you wanted to have a better chance at survival you should have been born into a family that wasn’t as disadvantaged. I am not responsible for your problems. ”

    The nearly 10-year decline in U.S. infant mortality rates has stalled and disparities between black and white infant mortality persist, according to CDC data, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the data, black infants are 2.4 times more likely to die before age one than white infants.

    In 2005, 13.26 black infants died per 1,000 live births, which is similar to the rate in some developing nations, the Journal reports. Among white infants, the mortality rate increased slightly to 5.73 deaths per 1,000 live births, up from 5.66 deaths in 2004, according to the data. Overall, the U.S. infant mortality rate increased from 6.78 deaths per 1,000 births in 2004 to 6.86 deaths per 1,000 births in 2005. According to the Journal, infant mortality rates had “steady declines” in the 1990s and early 2000s, particularly among white infants.

    CDC officials say the higher rates in large part can be attributed to low birthweights, shorter gestation periods and premature births. Experts say that it is difficult to identify a link between race and higher infant mortality but noted that higher rates of poverty, limited access to health care and dietary differences are possible contributors (Abkowitz, Wall Street Journal, 7/30).

    More often than not, those of us who lack basic health care and preventative medicine are those people who are poor and disadvantaged. Often, those same people are minorities, women and people who are not born into the wealth that gives people greater opportunity. It should be telling that, as a society, we have failed to provide for the majority of our citizens as well as other nations that are not as profit hungry.

    The divide between the rich and poor in America can be plainly seen here.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics says in a report that the U.S. ranks 29th worldwide in infant mortality. This has the U.S. worsening its ranking tying with Slovakia and Poland but falling behind Cuba. In 1960 the U.S. came in at 12th place and it was ranked 27th in 2004, while Japan which is ranked third has an infant mortality rate of less than half the U.S. at 2.8 per thousand live births.

    Marian F. MacDorman, PhD, and T.J. Mathews, CDC researchers said, “The U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than rates in most other developed countries. The relative position of the United States in comparison to countries with the lowest infant mortality rates appears to be worsening.”

    Yes, we are the wealthiest nation in the world, but no, we are not the wealthiest people in the world. The difference is that more of the wealthiest people in the world live in America than in other places. It is obvious that those wealthy people contribute less in America than they do in other nations, and you can prove it by noting the fact that nations without Wall Streets and Too Big To Fail banks have better health, and less preventable infant deaths.

    What I find very telling about the health and health care policies favored by the Republican party is the fact that 8 of the 10 states that are at the bottom in the ranking among states in the Infant Mortality rate are strong Republican states.

State          Rate1 Rank

United States 6.9 (X)

Alabama 9.4 4
Alaska 5.9 37
Arizona 6.9 24
Arkansas 7.9 14
California 5.3 43
Connecticut 5.8 39
Delaware 9.0 5
District of Columbia 14.1 (X)
Florida 7.2 22
Georgia 8.2 9
Hawaii 6.5 31
Idaho 6.1 35
Illinois 7.4 17
Indiana 8.0 12
Iowa 5.3 43
Kansas 7.4 18
Kentucky 6.6 27
Louisiana 10.1 2
Maine 6.9 25
Maryland 7.3 19
Massachusetts 5.2 47
Michigan 7.9 13
Minnesota 5.1 48
Mississippi 11.4 1
Missouri 7.5 15
Montana 7.0 23
Nebraska 5.6 42
Nevada 5.8 41
New Hampshire 5.3 45
New Jersey 5.2 46
New Mexico 6.1 34
New York 5.8 40
North Carolina 8.8 7
North Dakota 6.0 36
Ohio 8.3 8
Oklahoma 8.1 11
Oregon 5.9 38
Pennsylvania 7.3 19
Rhode Island 6.5 32
South Carolina 9.4 3
South Dakota 7.2 21
Tennessee 8.9 6
Texas 6.6 29
Utah 4.5 50
Vermont 6.5 30
Virginia 7.5 16
Washington 5.1 49
West Virginia 8.1 10
Wisconsin 6.6 28
Wyoming 6.8 26

    The fact is that despite wealthy states that vote more Democratic, the system we have for caring for our population is atrocious compared to that in other nations. Free market economic policies and the destruction of the social safety net due to privatization and a regressive tax system have gotten things to the point where New York State (which I call home) must look up to Andorra and Lichtenstein in matters as important as public health. Even Utah, the top performing state lags well behind many other nations.

    If you can, write, e-mail or call your congress critters and ask them how they feel about their states health care system lagging behind Cuba and other nations.

    The same people who fight to deny women the right to choose do nothing at all to prevent the tragic deaths of children who are born to families that can not afford proper health care, and often suffer under the iron hell of poverty. The same people who fear socialism in medicine entirely ignore the fact that when our society lacks the social safety net to ensure health care for all, the price that is paid can be counted in deaths, and those deaths are chiefly among the most poor, the youngest, the oldest and the most vulnerable.

    Of the states that have the worst infant mortality rates, it is striking that they tend to have larger minority populations than other states, and that they tend to have had Republicans in charge for a long period of time, including the present.

    To those who would deny the urgent need for health care reform that makes providing health care for all who require it the priority, and handing the mandatory super profits to insurers and Big Pharma second, please be sure to point out that no matter what state they live in, because of our profit first health care system the infant mortality rate where they live is likely to be twice as much as Cuba, Norway or Japan, and the more they vote Republican, the worse it is likely to be.


  1. and the truth is that our for profit health care system is killing us.

    This is the definition of blood money.

    • hoipoi on September 22, 2009 at 17:50

    I’m reading archive and found this omission interesing.  What else do the 8 out of 10 bottom states in this ranking have in common? They are in the SE bible belt.  What is the history of that area? (thats a rhetorical question, of course)  

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