New CDC Report Confirms Increase in 2002 Infant Mortality Rate

For Release: Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Contact: CDC/NCHS Press Office, (301) 458-4800


Infant Mortality Statistics from the 2002 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set. NVSR Volume 53, Number 10. 30 pp. (PHS) 2005-1120. pdf icon[PDF – 1.8 MB]

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that the 2002 infant mortality rate in the United States increased to 7.0 from the record low in 2001 of 6.8 per 1,000 live births. Overall, 27,970 infants died in the first year of life in 2002, compared with 27,523 in 2001.

This increase was first reported in the preliminary 2002 mortality data release. Preliminary data for 2003 indicate that the increase, the first after a long downward trend, may not be continuing. A more detailed report intended to describe the 2002 rise in infant mortality is forthcoming.

The three leading causes of infant death were congenital malformations, low birthweight, and sudden infant death syndrome, which together accounted for 45 percent of all infant deaths.

While nearly all groups showed improvement from 1995 to 2002, major disparities by race and ethnicity still exist:

  • In 2002 rates ranged from 3.0 per 1,000 live births for Chinese mothers to 13.8 for black mothers.
  • Between 1995 and 2002 the overall infant mortality rate declined by 7.9 percent, but rates were down 9.4 percent for infants of Asian or Pacific Islanders and 11.1 percent for infants of Hispanic mothers.

The report documents other significant patterns in infant mortality:

  • Between 2001 and 2002 the infant mortality rate among mothers who smoked during pregnancy increased by 6 percent. In 2002 the rate among smokers was 68 percent higher than for mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy.
  • Infant mortality rates were higher for infants whose mothers had no prenatal care, were teenagers, had less education, or were unmarried.
  • 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 for 2000-2002 among States ranged from 10.5 for Mississippi to 4.8 for Massachusetts.

“Infant Mortality Statistics from the 2002 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 2002.

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 (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 CDC/NCHS Web site.


Page last reviewed: October 6, 2006