Monday, April 19, 2010

How does the infant mortality rate in the US compare?

So many times, healthcare "reform" supporters tout the high level of infant mortality (and the disparities between ethnicities) as evidence of the United States' poor health care system. According to the CDC, "The U.S. ranks 29th worldwide in infant mortality, tying Slovakia and Poland but lagging behind Cuba." But what is the truth behind this oft-used statistic? Differing methods of live birth measurement between countries, advances in medicine, and rates of low-birth-weight pregnancies all affect the "discrepancy." 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, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The United States abides by this definition; however, many other countries do not.
  • Switzerland doesn't count babies shorter than 30 cm
  • Italy doesn't have a standard definition for the whole country
  • Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams before these countries count these infants as live births.
  • In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless.
  • Some countries don't reliably register babies who die within the first 24 hours of birth
  • In many ex-Soviet CIS countries (who still use the Soviet era definition), "breathing is the only criterion for life. In addition, 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" according to UNICEF. "The communist system stressed the need to keep infant mortality low, and hospitals and medical staff faced penalties if they reported increases in infant deaths. As a result, they sometimes reported the deaths of babies in their care as miscarriages or stillbirths."
When the distribution of low-birth-weight babies are adjusted, infant mortality rates start to equalize. Teenage pregnancy, which is three times higher in the US than in Canada, produces more premature, low birth-weight babies. A 2007 (NEBR) paper (table 2 to the left) found that "[W]ithin birth weight specific categories, mortality rates in the U.S. are lower than Canada’s in the three lowest birth rate categories where mortality rates are highest and the same or slightly higher in the two highest weight categories." If the US had the Canadian birth weight distribution, the infant mortality rate would decrease to 5.4, which is less than Canada's 5.5. "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," concluded economist John Goodman in his book, "Lives at Risk." Also, aside from counting discrepancies, US medicine has advanced to the point where heroic attempts to save low-weight infants' lives, which had previously been considered impossible, are now possible and considered to be the standard of care. Often these infants have a high risk of mortality and would have otherwise been considered miscarriages or stillbirths and not a live birth [see above] had an attempt not been made. Unfortunately, since these infants are counted as live births AND have high rates of mortality, it can only adversely affect the infant mortality rate. So, no, the US health care system doesn't fail infants. On the contrary, we're pretty on par with the rest of the world. Case closed on this failed usage of this statistic.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Less clothing = Earthquakes?

According to News One India, an Iranian cleric stated that "Many women who dress inappropriately ... cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes." He advises also that "Calamities are the result of people's deeds...We have no way but conform to Islam to ward off dangers." An easy argument could be made for the link between inappropriately dressed women, the decreasing value of intramarital sex, and the "incitement" of pre-marital/extra-marital sex. However, only a nutjob Iranian cleric would link women who don't abide by the strict dress code for women prescribed by Islamic law to natural disasters. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this man sounds a bit like that idiot, Fred Phelps. But, if earthquakes are the unintended consequence of bikinis, so be it. As seen on Gateway Pundit

Is the US #37 in health care in developed nations?

This is based off of a study done by the UN/WHO; an anti-US bias exists right there. Even they admit their data is "hampered by the weakness of routine information systems and insufficient attention to research" and that, when good numbers weren't available, they "developed [data] through a variety of techniques." And as those in the UN often do, they also just blindly believed what governments around the world told them about their systems (can we really believe corrupt regimes like Cuba?). The study's criteria include how progressive your tax system is as well as a subjective (i.e. what they think) measure of "fairness." This is the category which reduced our "grade" in the study the most, by getting 54th on this "fairness" scale. Their idea of "fairness" is like that of "equality of results," the idea behind the progressive "social justice" doctrine which tries to make everyone equal despite obvious inequalities in a population [Life isn't fair, but let's try our darndest to make it that way, even if we have to resort to socialism]. If two people go into a hospital and can only be cured by an expensive treatment, it is better in the eyes of the UN's standard to have both die than to have one live, even if one can afford it. The only 2 ways to achieve "fairness": "The healthy subsidize the sick" or "the rich subsidize the poor," with the first one being a basic tenent of insurance and the second one being the basic tenent of socialism. So, with a study that requires socialism to have a good health-care system, how can a non-socialist country (as of now) like ours be judged fairly against others? In order to figure out how to judge countries on "fairness," the WHO just conducted a survey, 1/2 of the respondants of which were themselves. And after the survey was "checked for consistency and bias," the UN then put 62.5% of the study on some sort of "equality" as defined by the UN. And we're supposed to believe this statistic when the entire study is stacked against the US by an anti-American organization like the United Nations? Next, how does Cuba stack up, really?

Friday, April 16, 2010

2010 National Day of Prayer - NOT Cancelled

There are rumors flying around the Internet regarding President Obama cancelling the 2010 National Day of Prayer. This is not true - he has merely chosen to not hold an official ceremony (for the second year in a row so as to "not offend anybody"). The merits and issues surrounding that decision, breaking with years of tradition can be debated separately, but there is no cancellation of NDP by the President. As well, President Obama will issue a Congressionalyl mandated proclamation as he did in 2009. The National Day of Prayer was established by Harry S Truman in 1952 and Ronald Reagan in 1988 as an annual observance "for people of all faiths" and is run every year by the National Day of Prayer Task Force. The National Day of Prayer was ruled unconstitutional yesterday, though as it is being stayed on appeal, the decision will not affect the 2010 Day. *UPDATE* - Gateway Pundit wrote a post about the decision.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Nazi" at the Tea Party Tonight

I got to witness a Tea Party infiltrator first hand tonight at the St. Louis Tax Day Tea Party. While walking around Memorial Plaza before it began, I noticed a crowd forming, causing quite a commotion. A man wearing Nazi/White supremacist symbols was being confronted by Tea Party members (esp with a sign from This is the result as recorded by Sharp Elbows. h/t Sharp Elbows *UPDATE* Gateway Pundit has updates on other Tea Partys' issues with infiltrators.

Introduction to my Blog

Hey - In the vein of Adam Sharp @ Sharp Elbows, I'm going to start my own conservative political blog. For the last few months, people have told me to move my random facebook posts to my own blog - and tonight at the Tea Party in Clayton, when Sharp talked about his start in the "blogosphere" a year ago, I thought I would finally move on with it. Though, as a student pharmacist, it will be combined with a dice of pharmacy. It may vary from random things at work, the inanities (and insanities) of my school, to thoughts on the pharmacy profession as a whole.