Windy Twilley

Yarn keeps me from opening fire.


Maybe I should switch my home page. got me angry early in the morning, again with an inflammatory article about babies in the US. This time they’re trotting out a survey that says that our infant mortality rate puts us at the bottom of the industrialized nations, “better only than Latvia.” (Oh, horrors!)

Dr. Mark Schuster, a pediatrician, said “Every time I see these kinds of statistics, I’m always amazed to see where the United States is because we are a country that prides itself on having such advanced medical care and developing new technology ... and new approaches to treating illness. But at the same time not everybody has access to those new technologies.”

While pregnancy may feel like an illness, especially in those first nausea-drenched months, it’s not. To speak of it as such borders on offensive, because if you speak of it in terms of disease, you can blanket highly controversial measures in terms of “therapy,” or “remedy,” or even “cure.” Because pregnancy is not a disease, all our cutting-edge medical technology cannot do much to help the average pregnant woman.

So what makes American pregnancies so dangerous? The article points to racial and economic inequalities, but fails to show the complete picture.

“In the United States, researchers noted that the population is more racially and economically diverse than many other industrialized countries, making it more challenging to provide culturally appropriate health care.”

What, exactly, is “culturally appropriate health care?” Aren’t these the same people who advocate a uniform health care system, blind to racial, economic, and cultural divides?

With the immigration debate reaching a fever pitch, I fail to understand why the researchers did not mention this as a factor. Many Mexicans make the harrowing trip across the border for the sole purpose of delivering their babies on American soil. Millions of illegal immigrants reside in this country, and deliver their babies in American hospitals (at the expense of the American taxpayer).

This is the sentence that got the smoke pouring from my ears: “The researchers also said lack of national health insurance and short maternity leaves likely contribute to the poor U.S. rankings.”


How does a short maternity leave (which typically occurs after a baby is born) result in a higher infant mortality rate? It is a mystery left unanswered by Save the Children. It seems to be a journey through connections, rather than a direct link. Companies that offer short maternity leaves tend to employ under-educated women in those positions. Under-educated women tend to come from poor backgrounds. They are also statistically more likely to be overweight, smokers, and single mothers. Overweight smokers tend to have premature and unhealthy babies. But to correlate the length of maternity leave to the health of an infant is just absurd.

What would national health care provide that programs like WIC, welfare, and Medicaid do not? Would they have the power to force women to attend prenatal visits? The programs are in place to help women who want it. The folks at MSN weave the noose for their own rah-rah-socialist-health-care neck, when they report on a second study, out this week, that damns American baby boomers. “That study showed that white, middle-aged Americans are far less healthy than their peers in England, despite U.S. health care spending that is double that in England.”

What’s the solution? Obviously, we should spend more money on health care!

Another factor left unaddressed by the study is a profile of the breeding population of America as a whole. While the poor and undereducated (despite a national education system, by the by) tend to breed young and breed often, there is a growing segment of the population that tends to breed older and at great risk. The sharp rise of fertility treatments (one of our cutting-edge medical technologies) has led to a parallel rise in high-risk pregnancies, multiple births, and even infant deaths.

The article ends with a quote from Kenneth Thorpe, a health care policy expert from Emory. “Our health care system focuses on providing high-tech services for complicated cases. We do this very well,” Thorpe said. “What we do not do is provide basic primary and preventive health care services. We do not pay for these services, and do not have a delivery system that is designed to provide either primary prevention, or adequately treat patients with chronic diseases.”

Again, to equate pregnancy with a chronic disease is insensitive to the point of offense. And his assertion that “we” don’t pay for basic primary and preventive health care services is blatantly false. The American taxpayer funds a host of programs to help pregnant women and their infants. According to WIC’s website, a single woman making $18,130 is eligible for the program. That’s almost $10 an hour - more than I make as a legal assistant.

The link between obesity and infant problems is well-documented, as are the links between uniquely American “poverty” and obesity. Because we allow our citizens such freedom - the freedom to choose Twinkies over turnip greens, for example - we have many citizens who make poor decisions. As a society, we have chosen to accept this risk as part of living in a free society, and we must remember that when we are faced with studies such as these.


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