I have to admit that I did not know much about the magnitude of how many babies and children die before our own sons passed away. Like many parents, I might have been most afraid of the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) after birth. Now that I did some research I am very surprised about the actual numbers and what the really big risks are. Read on to find out if you know the full scale.
I have to use data that is a little older from 2005 because that is the last year that Statistics Canada (Statcan) published all the datasets that I wanted to put together.
Here are some numbers for Canada (2005):
|Live Births||Fetal loss||Induced Abortions|
|Early fetal loss||1,197||Stillbirth|
|Late fetal loss||1,012|
* = only those which can get recorded with Statcan
On top of the fetal losses Statcan provides the numbers of babies who died within the first year (infant death).
|Infant death||1,863||0 days – 1 year|
|1,158||0 – 6 days||Early neonatal death|
|705||7 – 28 days||Neonatal death|
|29 days – 1 year||Post-neonatal death|
In the age group of 1-14 years, 791 children died in 2005. Out of these 66 were suicides or homicides. The highest number of these deaths were caused by accidents (233), followed by malignant neoplasms (116).
For 2005 it meant that fetal loss and infant death added up to 10,357 children. If we include all deaths up to the age of 14 years (excluding suicide or homicide), the number increases to 11,082. These numbers just blow my mind. I don’t want to even think about the abortion numbers. I wasn’t aware either that this number is so high, but that is another topic.
At the beginning I mentioned SIDS. In 2005, 112 deaths were classified as SIDS. Don’t get me wrong: I am grateful for all the attention that has been given to SIDS because I know that it helped tremenduously to reduce the number of children dying of SIDS. The argument I want to make though is that many of the other potential causes of death do not get nearly as much visibility despite the high number of children dying each day in Canada. We are talking about more than 28 children each day if taking into account fetal loss and infant death! And this is only counting the statistically recorded miscarriages because nobody knows how many miscarriages go unnoticed or unreported. With so many other risks, esp. during pregnancy, that cause a lot of deaths, maybe it is time to bring more attention to these issues. A good example is stillbirth: it seems that the medical profession does not know very much about stillbirth and there only seems to be limited research in this area. However, in Canada alone 2,209 families were affected in 2005.
You could spin this even further. Consider this: if we were to define life as beginning with conception, not with birth, fetal loss and infant death combined as a group would immediately jump to the 5th highest leading cause of death in Canada. It leads to more death than Diabetes (7,881 in 2005), prostate cancer (3,586 in 2005) or even breast cancer (5,045 in 2005). This comparison is obviously not completely fair because it groups a lot of potential causes of infant loss together and compares it to a single cause of death, but I still think that the topic of infant death or child loss deserves a lot more attention than it gets right now.