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CAT Critical Reasoning Practice question with Solution 50

A society’s infant mortality rate is an accepted indicator of that society’s general health status. Even though in some localities in the United States the rate is higher than in many developing countries, in the United States overall the rate has been steadily declining. This decline does not necessarily indicate, however, that babies in the United States are now, on the average, healthier at birth than they were in the past.

Which one of the following reasons, if true, most strongly supports the claim made above about the implications of the decline?

[A]. The figure for infant mortality is compiled as an overall rate and thus masks deficiencies in particular localities.
[B]. Low birth weight is a contributing factor in more than half of the infant deaths in the United States.
[C]. The United States has been developing and has achieved extremely sophisticated technology for saving premature and low-birth-weight babies, most of whom require extended hospital stays.
[D]. In eleven states of the United States, the infant mortality rate declined last year.
[E]. Babies who do not receive adequate attention from a caregiver fail to thrive and so they gain weight slowly.
Answer: C

The United States has, overall, seen a decline in its infant mortality rate in the past few years. But this does not mean that the babies born in the United States are healthier now than they were in the past. So the author is assuming the existence of an alternate explanation for the decline in the infant mortality rate. To support the argument, we need a choice that offers this alternate explanation. Choice (C) tells us that the United States has developed technology that can save babies that would have died otherwise. So while we may have just as many sick or premature babies being born, we have fewer babies dying as a result of sickness or premature birth thanks to the advanced technology. This would explain why the decrease in mortality rates has no connection with the average health of the infants.

(A) is useless background information; it doesn’t address the contrast between the overall infant mortality rate and infant health.

(B) doesn’t help us support the author’s claim; we don’t need more information about infant death. What we do need is information that would explain why a decline in the infant mortality rate doesn’t signal an increase in health.

(D) We’ve already been told that the overall infant mortality rate has been declining. Like (A), this provides background, but doesn’t do anything to explain or support the claim that overall infant health hasn’t improved.

(E) is a “left-field” choice. We’re concerned with why health hasn’t improved along with the infant mortality rate; we’re not interested in the relationship between babies’ health and how much attention they receive.

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