NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 8, 2008

More than 100 Canadian women with high-risk pregnancies have been sent to United States hospitals over the past year 9 -- in what a doctors' group attributes to the lack of a national birthing plan, says writer Lisa Priest.

The problem has peaked, with British Columbia and Ontario each sending a record number of women to U.S. neonatal intensive care units (NICUs):

  • Specifically, 80 women from British Columbia (B.C.) have been sent to U.S. hospitals since April 1, 2007.
  • In Ontario, 28 have been sent since January of 2007, according to figures from the respective health ministries.

Neonatologists are very stretched right now, we're so stretched, it's kind of dangerous, says Adre Lalonde, vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.

For instance:

  • Canada saw its world infant mortality rank plummet to 25th place in 2005 for sixth place in 1990, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
  • Specifically, Canada's infant mortality rate of 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births is tied with Estonia's and more than double Sweden's rate of 2.4.
  • In 2007, 3,269 babies were born prematurely, up from 3,137 in 2006, according to the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency.

Though British Columbia is adding NICU beds, Health Minister George Abbott, said that in itself is not the answer.  When extra NICU beds were added in Victoria, it took about a year before they were operational due to the difficulty in recruiting a neonatologist.

Source: Lisa Priest, "Canada's U.S. Baby Boom," Globe and Mail, May 5, 2008.


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