OTTAWA and VANCOUVER, Feb. 17, 2012 /CNW/ - Canada's ranking in
international child health indexes would dramatically improve if
measurements were standardized, according to a new study by researchers
from the University of British Columbia, Dalhousie University, McGill
University, the University of Calgary, and the Public Health Agency of
Canada (PHAC). It was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research (CIHR) and through PHAC's Canadian Perinatal Surveillance
The study, published today in the British Medical Journal, shows the surveys on perinatal, infant and child mortality rates
conducted by the United Nations Children's Fund and the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are biased because many
countries fail to register all babies, especially those born very small
or too early.
"The contemporary rankings of industrialized countries by infant
mortality and related indices are extremely misleading," says lead
author Dr. K.S. Joseph, a professor in UBC's Department of Obstetrics
and Gynecology and the School of Population and Public Health, and a
scientist at the Child & Family Research Institute.
"Appropriate steps should be taken to standardize birth registration and
related data quality issues if we are to fully understand infant health
status in industrialized countries," Dr. Joseph adds.
Using 2004 data from Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States,
the researchers compared fetal, neonatal and infant mortality rates.
Comparisons were also made using data for 2007 from Australia, Canada
and New Zealand.
The researchers' analysis revealed wide variations in birth registration
procedures, even in industrialized countries, resulting in comparisons
that rewarded countries that only register infants who survived, or who
had a reasonable chance of survival.
"The highly publicized, poor OECD rankings of Canada and the U.S. are
almost entirely attributable to the selective registration in other
countries of extremely preterm infants who survive, and the systematic
under-registration of those who don't," says Michael Kramer, one of the
study's authors and until recently the Scientific Director of CIHR's
Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health. "It is also
important to note that the poor international rankings do not reflect
inferior quality of, or access to, health care for pregnant women or
newborn infants in Canada and the United States. Correcting for this
problem, as is recommended by the World Health Organization, will show
that our countries perform extremely well."
Canada currently ranks 18th among OECD nations, with the United States placing 22nd. If corrected neonatal mortality rates calculations are applied,
however, Canada and the U.S. would rank 12th and 11th, respectively. Further, only 1 of 11 countries that ranked ahead of
Canada and only 2 of the 10 countries that ranked ahead of the U.S. had
mortality rates that were significantly lower. Similar findings were
obtained in rankings based on fetal and infant death rates.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency.
CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its
translation into improved health, more effective health services and
products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of
13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 14,100
health researchers and trainees across Canada. www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca
UBC Faculty of Medicine provides innovative programs in the health and life sciences, teaching
students at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels. Its
faculty members received $295 million in research funds, 54 percent of
UBC's total research revenues, in 2010-11. For more information, visit www.med.ubc.ca.
The Child & Family Research Institute conducts discovery, clinical and applied research to benefit the health
of children and families. It is the largest institute of its kind in
Western Canada. CFRI works in close partnership with the University of
British Columbia, BC Children's Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre
for Children, BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre, agencies of the
Provincial Health Services Authority, and BC Children's Hospital
Foundation. CFRI has additional important relationships with BC's five
regional health authorities and with BC academic institutions Simon
Fraser University, the University of Victoria, the University of
Northern British Columbia, and the British Columbia Institute of
Technology. For more information, visit www.cfri.ca.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is the main Government of Canada agency responsible for public health in
Canada. PHAC's Perinatal Surveillance System (CPSS) conducts
surveillance of maternal, fetal, and infant health determinants and
outcomes in Canada.
SOURCE Canadian Institutes of Health Research
For further information:
UBC School of Population and
Canadian Institutes of Health