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September Is Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Toy blocks spelling out the word babyLearn more about infant mortality risk factors and take action to reduce the risk.

The death of a baby before his or her first birthday is called infant mortality. Unfortunately, over 23,000 infants died during 2013 in the United States. The loss of a baby remains a sad reality for many parents and takes a serious toll on the health and well-being of families.

What Are the Causes?

Fortunately, most newborns grow and thrive. However, for every 1,000 babies born, 6 die during their first year. This figure, 6 deaths for every 1,000 births is referred to as the infant mortality rate. Most of these babies die as a result of:

The top five leading causes of infant mortality together accounted for about 57% of all infant deaths in the United States in 2013.

Woman eating salad

Eat healthy for you and your baby.

What Can You Do?

Pregnancy and childbirth have a huge effect on the health of women and their families. Pregnancy-related health outcomes are influenced by factors such as race, ethnicity, age, and income, but most importantly—a woman's health.

Good preconception health and care means living a safe, healthy lifestyle and managing any current health conditions before getting pregnant. By taking action on health issues before pregnancy, many future problems for the mother and baby can be prevented.

It is important for all women of reproductive age to adopt healthy behaviors such as:

A healthy pregnancy begins before conception and continues with appropriate prenatal care and addressing health problems if they arise.

What Is the Infant Mortality Rate?

The infant mortality rate (IMR) is an estimate of the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. The IMR is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a nation, because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also affect infant mortality rates. The IMR in 2013 declined to 5.96 overall, but disparities still exist. There are differences in infant mortality by age, race, and ethnicity.
Medical advances over the last 60 years have helped save babies and dramatically reduced l infant mortality. However, the United States still has a relatively poor global standing compared with other developed nations. A main reason for this is because the United States has a high percentage of preterm births which contributes to a higher infant mortality rate.

The good news is we can help reduce infant mortality among babies born preterm by addressing key risk factors such as prenatal smoking that contribute to low birthweight, preterm delivery, preterm-related death, and SIDS. Also, parents and caregivers can reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death by taking action to create safe sleep environments.

Learn more from CDC about infant mortality >>