Thursday, May 08, 2008

Canada's U.S. Baby Boom: Where's Michael Moore?

Globe and Mail (Canada's "Newspaper of record")--More than 100 Canadian women with high-risk pregnancies have been sent to United States hospitals over the past year – in what a doctors' group attributes to the lack of a national birthing plan.

The problem has peaked, with British Columbia and Ontario each sending a record number of women to U.S. neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Specifically, 80 B.C. women have been sent to U.S. hospitals since April 1, 2007 (about 1 every 5 days); in Ontario, 28 have been sent since January of 2007, according to figures from the respective health ministries.

Canada, once able to boast about its high rank in the world for low infant-mortality rate – sixth place in 1990 – saw its rank plummet to 25th place in 2005, according to figures published this year by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Specifically, Canada's infant mortality rate of 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births is tied with Estonia's and more than double Sweden's rate of 2.4.



At 5/08/2008 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

source: CIA Factbook

Which still leaves Cananda ahead of the US. And means that we trail Estonia.

At 5/08/2008 1:36 PM, Anonymous Is said...

Anonymous, what is a "live birth"? Do all countries use the same measurement? You would think so, but they don't. Don't fall for accounting gimmicks.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) definition, all babies showing any signs of life, such as muscle activity, a gasp for breath or a heartbeat, should be included as a live birth.

The U.S. strictly follows this definition. Other countries do not.

Switzerland, for instance, doesn't count the deaths of babies shorter than 30 cm, because they are not counted as live births.

"Under the Soviet era definition ... infants who are born at less than 28 weeks, weighing less than 1,000 grams or measuring less than 35 centimeters are not counted as live births if they die within seven days. This Soviet definition still predominates in many [formerly Soviet] CIS countries." This would include Estonia.

Since the United States generally uses the WHO definition of live birth, economist John Goodman and others in their 2004 book, "Lives at Risk," conclude, "Taking into account such data-reporting differences, the rates of low-birth-weight babies born in America are about the same as other developed countries in the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development]." Likewise, infant mortality rates, adjusted for the distribution of newborns by weight, are about the same.

I can't take credit for this research. Here is a link if you want to check the sources of the author.

At 5/08/2008 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

is said, thanks.
What I like about this blog is that it generally points out problems in headlines.

Estonia was not my choice.
However, what criteria does Canada use and is their infant mortality rate still lower than that of that of the US.

I realize that also is not the point of the original post, that the point was instead a possible shortcoming in the Canadian HC system requiring reliance on US facilities.

At 5/08/2008 2:44 PM, Blogger (Q) said...

from the report cited in the Globe and Mail:

Despite the relatively high level of health expenditure in the United States, there are fewer physicians per capita than in most other OECD countries. In 2005, the United States had 2.4 practising physicians per 1 000 population, below the OECD average of 3.0.

In the United States, life expectancy at birth increased by 7.9 years between 1960 and 2004, which is less than the increase of over 14 years in Japan, or 8.9 years in Canada. In 2004/5, life expectancy in the United States stood at 77.8 years, almost one year below the OECD average of 78.6 years.

Infant mortality rates in the United States have fallen greatly over the past few decades, but not as muchas in most other OECD countries. It stood at 6.8 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2004, above the OECD average of 5.4.1

from the OECD's 3 page release focussing on the United States, here

At 5/08/2008 3:16 PM, Blogger spencer said...

Roughly there were almost 350,000 births in Canada last year --calculated from birth rate data in CIA world fact book.

100 out of 350,000 does not seem to be a significant number.

Many Canadian reside much closer to US population centers then to Canadian population centers-- what is the stat, 90% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the US. this subject was blogged about last year when there were headlines about a Canadian women being sent to the US because the local maternity hospital was full and they were not prepared to handle her complicated multiple baby experience. As more and more info became available the decision to send this women to the nearby US facility turned out to be a very rational, economic choice given the extreme expense of having idle facilities for very rare events. As an economists you should praise the Canadian for not wasting resources.

At 5/08/2008 4:55 PM, Blogger t11s said...

What is more interesting is the average U.S. physician income was $199,000 in 1996 (most recent data), the comparable OECD median physician income was $70,324.

At 5/08/2008 6:47 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Well isn't that amazing?!?!

A socialist outfit started in France is now considered a credible source of information... LOL!

Thanks for playing...

At 5/08/2008 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there is a problem with healthcare in Canada all they need to do spend more on healthcare than they do now.

Increasing healthcare spending from roughly half of what the U.S. spends to say three quarters of what the U.S. spends should work nicely.

I don't see any Canadians lobbying their government for increased taxes to pay for increased spending on health care so I guess it isn't as bad as the fear-mongering private insurance company shills would have us believe.

At 5/08/2008 8:01 PM, Blogger David said...

Infant mortality rates also reflect broader social trends, including the prevalence of infants with low birth weight. The health system in the United States gives low birth-weight babies slightly better survival chances than does Canada’s, but the more pronounced difference is the frequency of these cases. In the United States, 7.5 percent of babies are born weighing less than 2,500 grams (about 5.5 pounds), compared with 5.7 percent in Canada. In both nations, these infants have more than 10 times the mortality rate of larger babies. Low birth weights are in turn correlated with teenage motherhood. (One theory is that a teenage mother is still growing and thus competing with the fetus for nutrients.) The rate of teenage motherhood, according to the O’Neill study, is almost three times higher in the United States than it is in Canada.

At 5/09/2008 4:56 PM, Blogger K T Cat said...

"a national birthing plan"

Does that phrase seem really creepy to anyone else?

At 5/09/2008 8:08 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Its a race thingie...

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Infant Mortality Rates --- 60 Largest U.S. Cities, 1995--1998

At 5/10/2008 5:35 PM, Anonymous Is said...

If there is a problem with healthcare in Canada all they need to do [is] spend more on healthcare than they do now.


At 5/10/2008 6:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neonatologists are very stretched right now, we're so stretched, it's kind of dangerous, says Adre Lalonde

There's your problem. Why are they so stretched in Canada?

How exactly is this the fault of the US? And if these types of issues are prevalent in nationalized healthcare, why would we want to consider such a mess?

No thank you.


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