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How do you document that American poverty is, for example worse than Europe's?  It's likely, IMHO, worse on a relative scale (comparing income distribution in the country), but is it on an absolute scale?  Are the poor in America poorer than the poor in France?  We all have our intuitive feel, but that doesn't get us anywhere.

Ah, read the diary that started it all.  You'd never know from the dearth of comments (sorry Canberra Boy), but this is the diary whose information was absorbed and, once the reeling died down, the blowback has been felt in many a thread since.

Un says parts of US as poor as 3rd world by Canberra Boy

In it, he links to the UN report and the summary in the Independent.  Some choice nuggets:

US infant mortality rates are on the rise, currently the same as in Malaysia

Blacks in Washington DC have a higher infant death rate than people in the Indian state of Kerala

Child poverty rates are now more than 20 percent

I probably should've linked to this sooner for those not following every single thread.  Apologies.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 02:33:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's late and I'm tired, but though the title of the article is "UN says parfts of US as poor as 3rd world", the summary from the Independent doesn't say that--unless I just missed it, and I read it pretty carefully.  It does say that 20% of US children are below the poverty rate, but of course we know that's very different than "poor as 3rd world", due to the definition of poverty rate.  I followed over to the UN report itself, looked at the table of contents, but wasn't able tol guess where this statement might be.  Perhaps if you know where it is, you could point me there.

Yes the infant mortality rates going up are concerning.  One must dig behind the numbers to understand the cause, so it can be addressed.  Once again being tired and having a tough work schedule starting tomorrow, I wasn't able to dig like I would like.  But I know that the level of care in neonatal units of hospitals is incredible today--technology is vastly improved.  I also know from personal experience that here in California mothers get cared for extremely well if they go through the California program--admittedly that's a little anecdotal, but I was surprised at the incredible care that two young woman without health insurance received.

But, from the articles: "One important means of preventing infant mortality is improving the health of infants at birth. The rate of low birth weight (LBW) -- a weight of less than 2500 grams (5.8 pounds) at birth -- has been steadily increasing since 1985, when LBW babies represented 6.8 percent of live births; in 2002, 7.8 percent of all live births were of low weight. Very low birth weight (VLBW) babies -- those weighing less than 1500 grams -- represented 1.5 percent of births. VLBW babies are particularly likely to have long-term health and developmental problems.

Good health care during pregnancy is a preventive strategy that assures the health of both mother and child. Overall, early entry into prenatal care (in the first 3 months of pregnancy) has been improving, reaching 83.7 percent of pregnant women in 2002. Unfortunately, this rate is lower for younger women as well as Black and Hispanic women. Some pregnant women (3.6 percent in 2002) go without prenatal care entirely or forgo these services until the third trimester of their pregnancy."

The VLBW and to some extent LBW babies due to drug use, hate the term but "crack babies", as well as HIV positive mothers has been a big impact on this area.  Heartbreaking and it tears up the doctors and nurses in the neonatal intensive care units.  So there may be a large negative social component to this.  As you can see prenatal care is up overall, but Blacks and Hispanics have lower usage rates--I'm inferring up as well, but less than whites, though the statement is not clear.  But clearly an area for improvement.

But as I said in my earlier comments on healthcare, I just get overwhelmed about going into this on the blog.  Because the statements just can't be taken as stated, without getting behind the numbers and understanding the cause.  I see that one possible explanation is that minority mothers can't get healthcare because they can't afford insurance, and their babies are underweight because the mothers are starving.  It's just knowing what I know in this area, I would dig behind the numbers (like I started above) and try to understand for sure what the root causes are.

gotta go, and i'll be tied up for a few days.

by wchurchill on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 03:56:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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