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U.S. IS LAGGING IN CHILD HEALTH, PANEL REPORTS

The United States is falling further behind other developed nations in key measures of child health, including infant mortality and preventable childhood diseases, a bipartisan national commission reported Thursday.

The findings of the National Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality suggest the nation is unlikely to meet major health goals established by the U.S. Public Health Service for the year 2000."Our nation's mothers and children are in trouble," said Rae K. Grad, executive director of the commission. "The warning signs have been right in front of us for some time now, but we as a nation have chosen to ignore them."

Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat and former senator, presented the commission's report Thursday with Grad at a hearing of the subcommittee on investigations and oversight of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He is chairman of the panel, whose members include Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan.

"It's the greatest problem my state faces. I think it is the greatest problem our country faces," Chiles said of health-care problems. "It's the greatest single thing, now that the Cold War is over, that we have to address."

The report said the infant mortality rate in 1989, the most recent year for which final figures were available, was 9.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. That was a slight reduction from the previous year's rate of 10 deaths, "but other countries are improving much faster than we are, and we are falling further and further behind," Grad said.