Infant Mortality Statistics Show Variation by Race, Ethnicity, and State

NVSR Vol. 48, No. 12. Infant Mortality Statistics from the 1998 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set. 28 pp. (PHS) 2000-1120. [PDF – 195 KB]

Contact: NCHS/CDC Public Affairs, (301) 458-4800


A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control Prevention, presents detailed data on infant mortality rates by race and ethnicity, leading causes of death, infant characteristics such as birthweight, and maternal factors such as receipt of prenatal care. These data are shown for the Nation and 3-year average infant mortality rates for each State. Highlights of the findings released today show:

  • Over 28,000 infants died in the first year of life in 1998, for an overall infant mortality rate of 7.2 infant deaths per 1,000 births, unchanged from the rate in 1997. Infants born to black mothers had the highest rate of infant mortality of 13.8 per 1,000 live births while those born to Japanese and Cuban mothers had the lowest (3.5 and 3.6, respectively). Other groups reported rates between these: Chinese (4.0), Mexican (5.6), non-Hispanic white (6.0), Filipino (6.2), Puerto Rican (7.8), American Indian (9.3), and Hawaiian (10.0).
  • The leading causes of infant death in 1998 were Congenital anomalies, Disorders related to low birthweight and Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which taken together accounted for nearly one-half of all infant deaths in the United States. Maternal complications and respiratory distress syndrome rounded out the top five causes of infant death. Congenital anomalies were the leading cause of death for all race and ethnic groups, except for infants of black mothers whose leading cause was disorders related to low birthweight.
  • Infant mortality rates for the years 1996-98 combined varied widely by State. Rates varied from 10.5 for Mississippi to 4.5 for New Hampshire. Among the groups with the highest rates, infants of black mothers had rates from 17.1 in Illinois and Nebraska to 10.1 in Massachusetts. For American Indians, rates ranged from 15.3 in Minnesota to 7.2 in New Mexico. (Many States did not have enough infants deaths for these groups to report a rate).

The report, “Infant Mortality Statistics from the 1998 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set” by T. J. Mathews, Sally C. Curtin, and Marian F. MacDorman, is based on information from the death certificate linked to the corresponding birth certificate for each infant under 1 year of age who died in 1998. The purpose of the linkage is to conduct more detailed analyses of infant mortality patterns and provide better information for prevention, research, and medical care. The data are based on birth and death records filed and linked by State vital statistics offices and reported to NCHS through the National Vital Statistics System.