News media have paid a lot of attention to the growing obesity epidemic among children all over the developed world, but recent studies point to a number of other somber health trends.
Perhaps most serious was a report that the United States has stalled in its efforts to reduce infant mortality.
The report, released last week by the National Center for Health Statistics, analyzed about 95 percent of birth records in the nation and found the United States has about seven infant deaths per 1,000 live births — roughly the same number it had in 2000.
The report found Japan, Sweden, Britain, Spain, France, Germany, Australia and more than a dozen other countries all had infant mortality rates of fewer than five deaths per 1,000 births, according to Bloomberg News.
Although the report found a small drop in the number of infant deaths in 2005 and 2006, the United States now ranks 29th in the list of nations with the lowest infant mortality rates — tied with Poland and Slovakia.
In Australia, a study of overall health and well-being among children found some less deadly but certainly troubling signs.
For instance, seven percent of Australian children surveyed reported having fewer than 11 books in their home.
The survey, by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, also found that out of 27 developed nations, Australia ranked 21st for children eating meals with their parents.
Australia “continues to accept mediocrity for our young people,” Fiona Stanley of the Research Alliance told The Australian newspaper. “I’m disappointed in the way Australia has become smug about being top of the pos in wealth and sport, but for the most important element for the future of the country, our children, we’re way behind the eight ball.”
A separate study found that Australian fathers regularly spend only about six minutes alone with their children on weekdays, according to Agence France-Presse.
“Children don’t come first in lucky country, says OECD report”
The Australian, October 21, 2008
“Australian dads give kids six minutes a day: study”
Agence France-Presse, October 20, 2008
“Infant Deaths in U.S. Stall as Other Nations Improve (Update1)”
Bloomberg, October 15, 2008