New CDC Report Shows Record Low Infant Mortality Rate

SIDS Rate Drops 11 percent in One Year

For Release: September 15, 2003

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


Infant Mortality Statistics from the 2001 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set. NVSR Volume 52, Number 2. 27 pp. (PHS) 2003-1120. pdf icon[PDF – 1.3 MB]

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the 2001 infant mortality rate in the United States reached a record low of 6.8 per 1,000 live births. Overall, about 27,500 infants died in the first year of life in 2001, compared with 27,960 in 2000. The three leading causes of infant death were congenital malformations, low birthweight, and sudden infant death syndrome, which together accounted for 44 percent of all infant deaths.

Driving the decline in infant mortality was the substantial drop in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), down 11 percent from 2000 to 2001. SIDS was down 12 percent for white mothers, 21 percent for all Hispanic mothers, and 27 percent for Mexican-American mothers, the largest single decline. In 2001 the SIDS rate for infants of black and American Indian mothers was more than double that of non-Hispanic white mothers.

While all groups showed improvement overall, major disparities by race and ethnicity still exist:

  • In 2001 rates ranged from 3.2 per 1,000 live births for Chinese mothers to 13.3 for black mothers.
  • Between 1995 and 2001 the overall infant mortality rate declined by 10.5 percent, but rates were down 9 percent for black infants and 14 percent for infants of Hispanic mothers.

The report documents other significant patterns in infant mortality:

  • Infant mortality rates were higher for infants whose mothers had no prenatal care, were teenagers, had less education, were unmarried, or smoked during pregnancy.
  • Infant mortality rates are higher for infants of women who were born in the United States, compared with women born outside the United States.
  • Infant mortality rates are higher for male infants, multiple births, and infants born preterm or at low birthweight.
  • 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 10.4 for Mississippi to 4.9 for Massachusetts.

Infant Mortality Statistics from the 2001 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. In order to conduct more detailed analyses of infant mortality patterns and provide more comprehensive data for research and prevention, the report uses information from the death certificate linked to the corresponding birth certificate for each infant under 1 year of age who died in 2001.

The infant mortality report by T.J. Mathews, Fay Menacker, and Marian F. MacDorman is based on data from birth and death records filed and linked by State vital statistics offices and reported to CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics through the National Vital Statistics System. For more information on the system or to view and download a copy of the report check the CDC/NCHS Web site.


Page last reviewed: October 6, 2006