Infant Mortality

At a glance

Infant mortality is the death of an infant before his or her first birthday. The infant mortality rate is an important marker of the overall health of a society. In 2021, the infant mortality rate in the United States was 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Causes of infant mortality

Almost 20,000 infants died in the United States in 2021. The five leading causes of infant death in 2021 were:

  1. Birth defects.
  2. Preterm birth and low birth weight.
  3. Sudden infant death syndrome.
  4. Injuries (e.g., suffocation).
  5. Maternal pregnancy complications.

Visit Mortality in the United States, 2021 for more information.

Infant mortality rates by state, 2021

View the Infant Mortality Rates by State Map from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Geographically, infant mortality rates in 2021 were highest among states in the South, Alaska, and in the Midwest.
In 2021, 19 states met the Healthy People 2030 target.

Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. One of the Healthy People objectives is to reduce the rate of all infant deaths. In 2021, 19 states met the Healthy People 2030 target of 5.0 infant deaths or less per 1,000 live births. Geographically, infant mortality rates in 2021 were highest among states in the South, Alaska, and in the Midwest.

Infant mortality rates by race and ethnicity, 2021

In 2021, infant mortality rates by race and ethnicity were as follows:

  • Non-Hispanic Black: 10.6
  • Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: 7.8
  • Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native: 7.5
  • Hispanic: 4.8
  • Non-Hispanic white: 4.4
  • Non-Hispanic Asian: 3.7

All records that indicted Hispanic ethnicity are classified as Hispanic regardless of race. For brevity, text references omit the term "single-race."

CDC activities

CDC is committed to improving infant outcomes. Public health agencies work with health care providers, communities, and other partners to reduce infant mortality. This joint approach can help address social, behavioral, and health risk factors that contribute to infant mortality.

CDC supports to 36 Perinatal Quality Collaboratives (PQCs). PQCs are state or multistate networks of multidisciplinary teams working to improve the quality of care for mothers and babies.

The Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Program (MCHEP) assigns epidemiologists and fellows to states, localities, and tribes. These assignees support epidemiologic research and provide scientific information to improve maternal and child health programs and policies.

Through the SUID and Sudden Death in the Young (SDY) Case Registry, CDC supports SUID monitoring programs in 32 sites. Participating sites use data about SUID trends and circumstances to develop strategies to reduce future deaths.

The Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) collects data on attitudes and experiences before, during, and after pregnancy. PRAMS data can be used to measure progress toward goals in improving the health of mothers and infants.

States can combine CDC Levels of Care Assessment ToolSM (CDC LOCATeSM) data with other public health data sources. These analyses show how levels of maternal and infant care can affect health outcomes.

Related links

CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

To find provisional and final data, see Linked Birth and Infant Death Data from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics

Drowning prevention information and child passenger safety resources from CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control