the foremost civilized nation

Tom Greene Davidson, Mar. 29, 1873 - Sept. 22, 1876

“The country which first recognizes its responsibilities to the child,” S. W. Newmayer wrote in 1911, “will receive the recognition of the world as being the foremost civilized nation.” Newmayer had just been asked to guide Philadelphia’s child health and welfare efforts, and as he surveyed indicators of child healthfrom around the world, he found that the United States lagged behind. The most telling sign was a list of the infant mortality rate (IMR) in 30 countries; the United States ranked 18th with an IMR of 135 deaths per 1000 live births. Newmayer then noted that some American cities had recently initiated a variety ofprograms to improve child health. “The United States,” he concluded hopefully, “is awakening to such realization.”

Jeffrey P. Brosco

Today, the US is statistically ranked just behind Cuba in infant mortality.


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