State of the World's Children

The most recent data published by UNICEF in the State of the World's Children 2009, paints a dismal picture of the health of children in the United States. On key indicators the United States ranks at or close to the bottom of 30 industrialized nations.

Infant Mortality Rate

Once again, the infant mortality rate in the United States places it below most of industrialized nations. In recent years, the United States has ranked above only those industrialized nations formerly within the Soviet Union's sphere of influence. In the most recent data, the United States, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia were tied for last place among the 30 industrialized nations. 

Top Ten Countries for Infant Morality Rates
Country
(by rank)
Infant mortality rate2, 2007 Rank
Czech Republic 3 1
Finland 3 1
Italy 3 1
Japan 3 1
Norway 3 1
Portugal 3 1
Slovenia 3 1
Sweden 3 1
Austria 4 9
Belgium 4 9
Bottom Ten Countries for Infant Morality Rates
Country
(by rank)
Infant mortality rate2, 2007 Rank
Australia 5 21
Canada 5 21
New Zealand 5 21
United Kingdom 5 21
Hungary 6 25
Poland 6 25
Latvia 7 27
Lithuania 7 27
Slovakia 7 27
United States 7 27

1 30 industrialized nations as designated on p.152 of the SOWC 2009 report, excluding those with populations of fewer than 1 million.
2 Infant deaths before one year of age per 1,000 live births.

SOURCE: The State of the World's Children 2009. New York: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), December 2008; Table 2: Nutrition.
Rankings by the Children's Defense Fund, 2/09. 

 

Low Birthweight

This year, as for the past five years, the United States ranked above only Hungary among industrialized nations in percentage of babies born at low birthweight. 

Top Ten Countries for Low Birthweight
Country
(by rank)
Percentage of infants with low birthweight 2000-20072 Rank
Estonia 4 1
Finland 4 1
Lithuania 4 1
Sweden 4 1
Denmark 5 5
Latvia 5 5
Norway 5 5
Canada 6 8
Ireland 6 8
Italy 6 8
Bottom Ten Countries for Low Birthweight
Country
(by rank)
Percentage of infants with low birthweight 2000-20072 Rank
Germany 7 16
Slovakia 7 16
Belgium 8 22
Greece 8 22
Israel 8 22
Japan 8 22
Portugal 8 22
United Kingdom 8 22
United States 8 22
Hungary 9 29

1 30 industrialized nations as designated on p.152 of the SOWC 2009 report, excluding those with populations of fewer than 1 million. Data for the Netherlands not available.
2 Percent of infants born weighing less than 2,500 grams (5 lb, 8 oz).
* Data refer to the most recent year available during period specified in the column heading.

SOURCE: The State of the World's Children 2009. New York: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), December 2008; Table 2: Nutrition.
Rankings by the Children's Defense Fund, 2/09.

 

Immunization

The United States is fifth from the bottom of industrialized nations in percentage of 1-year-olds immunized against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. We ranked at the bottom of this group of nations in percentage of 1-year-olds immunized against Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b).

Top Ten Countries for Immunization Rates for One-Year-Olds for Haemophilus influenzae type b
Country
(by rank)
Percentage of one-year-olds immunized against Hib (3 doses)2 Rank
Czech Republic 99 1
Hungary 99 1
Slovakia 99 1
Sweden 99 1
Belgium 98 5
Slovenia 98 5
Finland 97 7
Latvia 97 7
Portugal 97 7
Netherlands 96 10
Bottom Ten Countries for Immunization Rates for One-Year-Olds for Haemophilus influenzae type b
Country
(by rank)
Percentage of one-year-olds immunized against Hib (3 doses)2 Rank
Ireland 92 20
Switzerland 92 20
United Kingdom 92 20
Greece 88 23
Poland 88 23
France 87 25
Austria 85 26
New Zealand 78 27
Denmark 75 28
United States3 75 28

1 30 nations as designated on p.152 of the UNICEF report, excluding those with populations of fewer than 1 million. Data for Japan not available.
2
percentage of one-year-old children who received 3 or more doses of the vaccine for Haemophilus influenzae type b.
3
United States 2007 immunization rates for children "before 13 months of age" were substituted for the figures in the 2009 State of the World's Children

SOURCE: 1) The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF): The State of the World's Children 2009; New York: December 2008, Table 3: Health. 2) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Estimated Vaccination Coverage with Individual Vaccines and Selected Vaccination Series Before 13 Months of Age by State and Local Area. US, National Immunization Survey, 2007. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/stats-surv/nis/data/tables_2007.htm
Rankings by the Children's Defense Fund, 2/09.

Top Ten Countries for Immunization Rates for One-Year-Olds for Diptheria, Pertussis and Tetanus
Country
(by rank)
Percentage of one-year-olds immunized against DPT (3 doses)2 Rank
Belgium 99 1
Czech Republic 99 1
Finland 99 1
Hungary 99 1
Poland 99 1
Slovakia 99 1
Sweden 99 1
France 98 8
Japan 98 8
Latvia 98 8
Bottom Ten Countries for Immunization Rates for One-Year-Olds for Diptheria, Pertussis and Tetanus
Country
(by rank)
Percentage of one-year-olds immunized against DPT (3 doses)2 Rank
Norway 93 21
Switzerland 93 21
Australia 92 23
Ireland 92 23
United Kingdom 92 23
United States3 91 26
Greece 88 27
New Zealand 88 27
Austria 85 29
Denmark 75 30

1 30 nations as designated on p.152 of the UNICEF report, excluding those with populations of fewer than 1 million.
2
Percentage of one-year-old children who received 3 or more doses of the vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.
3
United States 2007 immunization rates for children "before 13 months of age" were substituted for the figures in the 2009 State of the World's Children.
 
SOURCE: 1) The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF): The State of the World's Children 2009; New York: December 2008, Table 3: Health. 2) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Estimated Vaccination Coverage with Individual Vaccines and Selected Vaccination Series Before 13 Months of Age by State and Local Area. US, National Immunization Survey, 2007.
Rankings by the Children's Defense Fund, 2/09.