Concept: Infant mortality
Preterm birth is the most common single cause of perinatal and infant mortality, affecting 15 million infants worldwide each year with global rates increasing. Understanding of risk factors remains poor, and preventive interventions have only limited benefit. Large differences exist in preterm birth rates across high income countries. We hypothesized that understanding the basis for these wide variations could lead to interventions that reduce preterm birth incidence in countries with high rates. We thus sought to assess the contributions of known risk factors for both spontaneous and provider-initiated preterm birth in selected high income countries, estimating also the potential impact of successful interventions due to advances in research, policy and public health, or clinical practice.
The development of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is considered the biggest change to the global energy production system in the last half-century. However, several communities have banned fracking because of unresolved concerns about the impact of this process on human health. To evaluate the potential health impacts of fracking, we analyzed records of more than 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2013, comparing infants born to mothers living at different distances from active fracking sites and those born both before and after fracking was initiated at each site. We adjusted for fixed maternal determinants of infant health by comparing siblings who were and were not exposed to fracking sites in utero. We found evidence for negative health effects of in utero exposure to fracking sites within 3 km of a mother’s residence, with the largest health impacts seen for in utero exposure within 1 km of fracking sites. Negative health impacts include a greater incidence of low-birth weight babies as well as significant declines in average birth weight and in several other measures of infant health. There is little evidence for health effects at distances beyond 3 km, suggesting that health impacts of fracking are highly local. Informal estimates suggest that about 29,000 of the nearly 4 million annual U.S. births occur within 1 km of an active fracking site and that these births therefore may be at higher risk of poor birth outcomes.
Vast records of our everyday interests and concerns are being generated by our frequent interactions with the Internet. Here, we investigate how the searches of Google users vary across U.S. states with different birth rates and infant mortality rates. We find that users in states with higher birth rates search for more information about pregnancy, while those in states with lower birth rates search for more information about cats. Similarly, we find that users in states with higher infant mortality rates search for more information about credit, loans and diseases. Our results provide evidence that Internet search data could offer new insight into the concerns of different demographics.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) is common in infants. When the condition causes pathological symptoms and/or complications it is considered gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). It appears to be increasingly diagnosed and causes great distress in the first year of infancy. In New South Wales (NSW), residential parenting services support families with early parenting difficulties. These services report a large number of babies admitted with a label of GOR/GORD. The aim of this study was to explore the maternal and infant characteristics, obstetric interventions, and reasons for clinical reporting of GOR/GORD in NSW in the first 12 months following birth (2000-2011).
The term “encephalopathy of prematurity” encompasses not only the acute brain injury [such as intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH)] but also complex disturbance on the infant’s subsequent brain development. In premature infants, the most frequent recognized source of brain injury is IVH and periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). Furthermore 20-25% infants with birth weigh less than 1,500 g will have IVH and that proportion increases to 45% if the birth weight is less than 500-750 g. In addition, nearly 60% of very low birth weight newborns will have hypoxic-ischemic injury. Therefore permanent lifetime neurodevelopmental disabilities are frequent in premature infants. Innovative approach to prevent or decrease brain injury in preterm infants requires discovery of biomarkers able to discriminate infants at risk for injury, monitor the progression of the injury, and assess efficacy of neuroprotective clinical trials. In this article, we will review biomarkers studied in premature infants with IVH, Post-hemorrhagic ventricular dilation (PHVD), and PVL including: S100b, Activin A, erythropoietin, chemokine CCL 18, GFAP, and NFL will also be examined. Some of the most promising biomarkers for IVH are S100β and Activin. The concentrations of TGF-β1, MMP-9, and PAI-1 in cerebrospinal fluid could be used to discriminate patients that will require shunt after PHVD. Neonatal brain injury is frequent in premature infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care and we hope to contribute to the awareness and interest in clinical validation of established as well as novel neonatal brain injury biomarkers.
Maternity leave reduces neonatal and infant mortality rates in high-income countries. However, the impact of maternity leave on infant health has not been rigorously evaluated in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In this study, we utilized a difference-in-differences approach to evaluate whether paid maternity leave policies affect infant mortality in LMICs.
There have been dramatic improvements in reducing infant sleep-related deaths since the 1990s, when recommendations were introduced to place infants on their backs for sleep. However, there are still approximately 3,500 sleep-related deaths among infants each year in the United States, including those from sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, and unknown causes. Unsafe sleep practices, including placing infants in a nonsupine (on side or on stomach) sleep position, bed sharing, and using soft bedding in the sleep environment (e.g., blankets, pillows, and soft objects) are modifiable risk factors for sleep-related infant deaths.
The US has higher infant mortality than peer countries. In this paper, we combine micro-data from the US with similar data from four European countries to investigate this US infant mortality disadvantage. The US disadvantage persists after adjusting for potential di erential reporting of births near the threshold of viability. While the importance of birth weight varies across comparison countries, relative to all comparison countries the US has similar neonatal (<1 month) mortality but higher postneonatal (1-12 months) mortality. We document similar patterns across Census divisions within the US. The postneonatal mortality disadvantage is driven by poor birth outcomes among lower socioeconomic status individuals.
Exposure to secondhand smoke from burning tobacco products causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults (1,2). Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, more severe asthma, respiratory symptoms, and slowed lung growth (1,2). Secondhand smoke exposure contributes to approximately 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year (2). This report updates a previous CDC report that evaluated state smoke-free laws in effect from 2000-2010 (3), and estimates the proportion of the population protected by comprehensive smoke-free laws. The number of states, including the District of Columbia (DC), with comprehensive smoke-free laws (statutes that prohibit smoking in indoor areas of worksites, restaurants, and bars) increased from zero in 2000 to 26 in 2010 and 27 in 2015. The percentage of the U.S. population that is protected increased from 2.72% in 2000 to 47.8% in 2010 and 49.6% in 2015. Regional disparities remain in the proportions of state populations covered by state or local comprehensive smoke-free policies, as no state in the southeast has a state comprehensive law. In addition, nine of the 24 states that lack state comprehensive smoke-free laws also lack any local comprehensive smoke-free laws. Opportunities exist to accelerate the adoption of smoke-free laws in states that lack local comprehensive smoke-free laws, including those in the south, to protect nonsmokers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure.