Friday Jan 11, 201305:26 AM GMT
Guns, drugs, car crashes leading causes of US youth mortality: Report
The US has the highest infant mortality rate among developed nations, a new study indicates.
The US has the highest infant mortality rate among developed nations, a new study indicates.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:3AM
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Something at the core is causing the US to slip behind these other high-income countries. And it’s getting worse.”

Dr. Steven Woolf, chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University

A US study has found that younger Americans die earlier and live in poorer health than their peers in other developed countries, with far higher mortality rates resulting from gun violence, drug addiction and auto accidents.


Firearm shootings, car accidents, and drug overdoses were chief contributors to “years of life lost by Americans prior to reaching age 50,” The New York Times reported on Thursday, quoting a research analysis of health and longevity in the US by the Institute for Medicine and the National Research Council.

According to the report, the rate of firearm homicides was 20 times higher in the United States than in other developed countries, citing a 2011 study of 23 mostly Western nations. It further underlined that while suicide rates were lower in America, firearm suicide rates in the country were six times higher.

The 378-page study by a panel of experts convened by the institute is the first to “systematically compare death rates and health measures for people of all ages, including American youths,” the report notes.

“It went further than other studies in documenting the full range of causes of death, from diseases to accidents to violence. It was based on a broad review of mortality and health studies and statistics.”

The countries in the analysis included Canada, Japan, Australia, France, Germany and Spain.

Panelists, the report adds, expressed surprise at just how consistently Americans wind up at the bottom of the rankings. For instance, the US had the second-highest death rate from the most common form of heart disease, the kind that causes heart attacks, and the second-highest death rate from lung disease, a consequence of high smoking rates in past decades.

American adults also have the highest diabetes rates, the study shows.

Even the very young Americans did not rank any better either. The US has the highest infant mortality rate among these developed nations, and its adolescents have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy and deaths from car crashes, the report further states.

“Americans lose more years of life before age 50 to alcohol and drug abuse than people in any of the other countries.”

The panel further described the pattern of higher rates of disease and shorter lives in the country as “the US health disadvantage,” adding that it was responsible for “dragging the country to the bottom in terms of life expectancy over the past 30 years.”

It reported that American men ranked last in life expectancy among the 17 countries in the study, and American women ranked second to last.

“Something fundamental is going wrong,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, who led the panel. “This is not the product of a particular administration or political party. Something at the core is causing the US to slip behind these other high-income countries. And it’s getting worse.”

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