Childbirth History - United States
Babies born in the United States in the 21st century have one of the world's highest rates of infant survival. According to data collected in 2009 by the World Bank, infant mortality rates in America were 6.8 per 1,000 live births. The 2009 World Fact Book lists the baby mortality rate at 6.26 per 1,000 live births and the United Nations lists the mortality rate for American infants at 6.3 deaths per 1,000 live births.
In the 18th and 19th centuries (1700s and 1800s) the baby mortality rates were much higher in the United States and other countries that are considered developed by world standards. Many more women also died in childbirth than they do today. The reasons for this are advancements in medical technology and more scientific knowledge. Today we know about bacteria and how it affects the human body. We know techniques to reduce bacteria exposure so vulnerable newborns don't contract infections that could kill them. We also know about nutrition and how eating properly while pregnant which increases the chance of giving birth to a healthy baby and surviving a difficult labor and delivery.
Infant Mortality Rates by Country
Statistics by different companies and organizations vary as to determining who has the best infant mortality rate in the world. The United Nations lists Iceland as having the best rate with 2.9 deaths per 1,000 live births with Singapore a close second at 3.0 deaths. The World Fact Book places Singapore at the top with a rate of 2.31. According to the World Fact Book, Iceland has an infant mortality rate of 3.23 per 1,000 live births. Countries like Sierra Leon and Angola have some of the world's highest rates of baby deaths with the rates being 160.3 and 180.21.
Infant Mortality in the United States
Having a baby in the United States isn't as dangerous for mother and child as it would be to have a baby in a less developed nation, but the risks are still there. The New York Times reported in 2009 that the U.S. is still struggling with infant mortality rates even in this modern time period. Data showed that America had an infant death rate higher than 28 other countries and it's not because of any baby boom in the United States. A doctor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the reason for the increased numbers is likely due to preterm births or health problems associated with preterm birth that even modern medicine can't fix or prevent.
According to state statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics, the District of Columbia had the highest rate of infant mortality in 2005 with 14.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. South Carolina and Delaware followed with 9.03 deaths per 1,000 live births. Minnesota had the lowest rate at 4.78.
Adoption in the United States
Some infertile couples or those couples who have had a child die due to preterm birth complications choose to look into local adoption if the chance of conceiving a child on their own is very slim. The process on how to adopt a baby in the United States is a little different than adopting internationally. The wait for a baby can easily be 10 years locally and American children available for faster adoption tend to be older and/or suffer from health problems or global developmental delays. Extensive counseling is necessary as well as an in-depth test if you wish to adopt a child within the United States. Potential adoptive parents may also need to consent to an open adoption where the child's birth family (parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles) are involved in the child's life even though they're not actually raising him or her.