Apr 14, 2003
One baby in eight in the U.S. arrives early, a rate twice as high as in most European countries. And the rate among black mothers is twice as high as among white mothers. Although far more premature babies are surviving than ever before, prematurity remains a significant cause of death in the first month of life (more than 100 deaths per 100,000 births in 2000.)
So why are there more and more premature babies? The medical establishment talks about the rising age for first pregnancies. But it is both women over 35 and women under 17 who are more likely to have premature babies.
But these factors would be much less significant if good medical care for pregnant mothers were available, including treatment of certain kinds of infections, to lower the rate of premature births.
But like everything else, medical care reflects the class nature of this society: those with money get more of it and of a higher quality.
Women who lack good medical care often lack the resources to get off their feet during a difficult pregnancy. How can they pay to be off work for several months? And what about limits on who gets Medicaid and what it can be used for? The quality of Medicaid assistance is often low for those who do qualify – which is not the working poor.
This country, which has billions to bomb other countries, can't find the money to assure the lives of all its babies.