Deaths of newborns in the US has been 10 per cent higher than Norway and other Scandinavian countries for 1986 and 1987, the most recent data available. The cause, believe researchers, is the higher rate of pre-term babies delivered in the States.
Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina said that the US's safety rate with newborns would be as good as Norway's if it could only reduce the numbers of "preemies". This, presumably, could come about if doctors had a less aggressive and interventionist approach to birth and fewer cases of assisted fertility, known to increase the likelihood of premature birth.
Currently, about 22,000 newborns die during the first 27 days of life in the US. Pre-term deliveries have increased from 9.4 per cent in 1981 to 10.7 per cent in 1992.
More than 40 per cent of deaths of healthy babies in Britain are due to poor care from obstetricians, midwives and doctors, a government report has concluded.
The findings blamed the deaths on "insufficient skills, inappropriate attitudes and apparent lack of senior accountability". Of the 388 deaths investigated, 43 were due to poor resuscitation techniques (BMJ, March 25, 1995).