New CDC Report Shows Decline in Infant Mortality Rate in 1999 Analyzes Patterns of Infant Mortality

For Release: January 30, 2002

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


Infant Mortality Statistics from the 1999 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set. NVSR Volume 50, No. 4. 27 pp. (PHS) 2001-1120. [PDF – 1.3 MB]

A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control Prevention, shows that the 1999 infant mortality rate of 7.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births was 3 percent lower than the 1998 rate and down 21 percent from the rate of 8.9 at the beginning of the decade.

The report documents wide variation in the infant mortality rate by the race of mother with the highest rate, 14.0 for infants of black mothers, more than four times higher than the groups with the lowest rates, 2.9 for infants born to Chinese mothers and 3.4 for Japanese mothers. Infants of Cuban, Central and South American, Mexican, non-Hispanic white, and Filipino mothers had low rates, while rates were higher for infants of Puerto Rican, Hawaiian, and American Indian mothers.

Infant mortality rates also varied greatly by State. Rates are generally higher for States in the south and lowest for States in the West and Northeast. Infant mortality rates among States ranged from 10.3 for Mississippi to 4.8 for New Hampshire.

The report, “Infant Mortality Statistics from the 1999 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set,” 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.

Other highlights of the report:

  • Almost 28,000 infants died in the first year of life in 1999. The three leading causes of infant death-–congenital malformations, low birthweight, and sudden infant death syndrome–together accounted for almost one-half of all infant deaths in 1999.
  • Infant mortality rates were higher for mothers who began prenatal care late or had none at all, were teenagers, had 9-11 years of education, were unmarried, or smoked during pregnancy.
  • Infant mortality rates were also higher for male infants, multiple births, and infants born preterm or at low birthweight.

The infant mortality report by T. J. Mathews, Marian F. MacDorman, and Fay Menacker 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 1999. 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. For more information on the system or to view and download a copy of the report check the NCHS Website.

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