Why Are Philadelphia’s Babies Dying So Quickly?

Depressing: The death rate for infants in Philadelphia is about the same as it is in Indonesia, the Inquirer reports today. And Indonesia has the eighth-worst infant mortality rate in the world, according to a new report from Save The Children that compiles all the very, very sad news.

The Inky reports: “Philadelphia ranks fifth from the bottom of the more than 200 most populous counties nationwide on a key measure of infant mortality, the organization Save the Children is reporting Tuesday, another reminder of the overriding importance of poverty and race.” Camden and Delawafe County rank 20 and 22nd, respectively, on the last, so the region is suffering, it seems.

But why?

“One thing that women in Philadelphia have in common with women in the developing world is that the poorer they are, the greater chance they have of losing a baby on the first day of life,” said Carolyn Miles, Save the Children’s president and chief executive officer.

A Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office review of 487 deaths of children less than one year – nearly half of them in the first 24 hours – in 2009-10 attributed 54 percent to prematurity. An additional 18 percent were due to sleep-related causes, such as suffocation due to an adult rolling over in a shared bed; 11 percent were congenital.

One more problem: A lack of access to good care. Fifteen maternity wards have closed around the city in recent years, officials said. Only six remain.