A study released by the Health Affairs journal earlier this week found that a disproportionate amount American children are not surviving into adulthood. The research, led by Ashish Thakrar, found that over 600,000 child deaths could have been prevented if those kids had been born in other comparable countries. Children born in the U.S. today are 70 percent more likely to die before they grow up than other wealthy countries in the world, such as Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and 17 other wealthy, democratic nations.
Although the trend of childhood deaths has been declining over the past 15 years for every country featured in the study, the U.S. still ranks outrageously high in childhood deaths— fatalities that largely seem preventable by simple policy changes to address the following problems.
Gun Violence and Car Accidents
The numbers, here, speak for themselves: research clearly shows that the more guns are owned in a certain place, the more people die by those guns. Despite the comprising only 4.5 percent of the world’s population, Americans also own over half of the guns in the world, Vox reports.
Teens are very likely to die from car accidents — three times more likely than people who are 20 years of age or older. While raising the driving age may seem extreme, more moderate interventions such as greater parent engagement and education, could make young drivers significantly safer, studies suggest.
Health insurance (or lack thereof)
Congress’s baffling failure to re-authorize CHIP in September—and their stop-gap funding package they approved in the end of December which may only give some states funding through January 19th—will kick nearly 9 million children off of affordable health insurance. Another, less covered failure of Congress was that they allowed funding for Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program to run out in September. That program that helps mothers recover from birth and benefits children’s health through more direct access to care.
Poverty in the United States
Poverty is essentially the answer to end all answers. Children who are poor often don’t have health insurance, appropriate medical attention, the ability to go to the doctor even for emergencies, or a healthy diet and lifestyle. In the 1980s, when poverty was rising, so did child mortality rates. Children who are poor get sick faster and more often. Poverty is often related to inadequate shelter, higher rates of infant deaths, low birth weights, asthma, obesity, worsening injuries, mental health issues, readiness to learn, and more. Provided they’re lucky enough to survive, as the recent research underscores, they are set up for a difficult lives across the board.