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We rock at putting out fires.

During my ride home yesterday I fell into my normal #nprcomma that @rawrmeans143 says I do. I was listening to a story about the United States infant mortality rate. They were talking about how the  “infant mortality in the U.S. is worse than in 29 other countries, including practically all of Europe, Canada and Australia” according to the CDC.

That’s sounds bad, but it actually is a good thing. In that I mean it could have been worse. We have been on a death spiral for a while now. Back in the good old days of 1960, we ranked 12th. In 2005 we were 30th. About 7 infants die for every 1,000 born in America, a 36 percent rise since 1984.

You may be thinking, “What is dragging down our mortality? ACORN? President Osama Mcdeathpanel? High-fructose corn syrup?” None of the above, but HFCS would have been a good guess since it is killing the rest of us non infants. What is making the numbers so huge is the number of preterm births we have in this country.

Preterm births are any births that happen before the 37th week. And why are preterm births becoming more common? Who knows! The CDC sure as hell doesn’t, though they point to a few likely factors. Preterm births are more likely in women with other health issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. And if there is one thing Americans do best it is get these same diseases.

The one bright spot in the whole study was that the US is great at keeping these preterm babies alive. And that is the problem. We are great at putting out the fires, not so great at keep the fires from starting.

This is the problem with our health care system as a whole today. We are great at developing life saving drugs and therapies to help people live longer lives with their hypertension and diabetes.

During the #HCR debates of this summer the repeated statement by the Republicans has been that out health system is great because we lead the world in fighting illnesses. And they are right. We lead the world in saving and prolonging your life, ONCE you are already can’t see you feet and unable to walk up a handicap ramp.

We have put so much money into allowing you to live with these major health problems that we forgot that these things are not normal. We need to refocus our healthcare system to fight the root cause of these problems which are killing millions, young and old.



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November 2009
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