The United States spends more per-capita on health care than its global peers but remains “the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into,” according to a recent study published in the journal Health Affairs.
According to data from the World Health Organization and the global Human Mortality Database, the problems go all the way back to the 1960s. It was during that decade that the U.S. infant mortality rate (for babies less than a year old) and the U.S. childhood mortality rate (for those between the ages of 1 and 19) began to exceed the combined rates for the other 19 richest nations.
Authors of the study concluded that over 600,000 childhood deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented in the past few decades had America kept pace with its peers in improving health outcomes for one of the country's most vulnerable populations.
“The care of children is a basic moral responsibility of our society,” wrote the study authors, led by Dr. Ashish Thakrar, a first-year resident in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. “The U.S. outspends every other nation on health care per capital for children, yet outcomes remain poor.”
Of particular concern to the study's authors is the Trump administration's goal of significant cuts to the Children's Health Insurance Program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, both of which serve countless American children.
This lack of priority in keeping children healthy, versus simply treating them when they are sick, likely contributes significantly to the U.S. trailing other wealthy nations in childhood deaths.
Although the U.S. had higher per-capita spending on healthcare, it “spent significantly less of its gross domestic product per capital on child health and welfare programs, compared to other wealthy nations,” the researchers noted.
The result is that the United States is “the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into,” the study authors concluded. “All US policy makers, pediatric health professionals, child health advocates, and families should be troubled by these findings.”