New Studies: Fetal Mortality and Infant Homicides

For Immediate Release: July 26, 2023

Contact: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, Office of Communication (301) 458-4800

The number of fetal deaths occurring at 20 weeks of gestation or more increased 1% from 2020 to 2021, but the rate of these deaths was essentially unchanged, according to new data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. In another report released today, NCHS data showed there were 1,067 infant homicides during 2017‒2020, an average of 267 per year.

The reported data are from the National Vital Statistics System. Analyses of these data are available in “Fetal Mortality: United States, 2021” and “Homicides Among Infants in the United States, 2017–2020.”

Key findings from the fetal mortality report include:

  • 21,105 fetal deaths at 20 weeks of gestation or more were reported in the United States in 2021. There had been 20,854 in 2020.
  • For deaths occurring at 20 weeks of gestation or more, the fetal mortality rate was 5.74 fetal deaths per 1,000 live births in 2020 and 5.73 in 2021.
  • From 2020 to 2021, the fetal mortality rate declined 4% for Black women (10.34 to 9.89). This was the only significant change among the race and Hispanic origin groups studied.
  • In 2021, fetal mortality rates were highest for females under age 15 (13.14) and lowest for women ages 30─34 (5.13).
  • The fetal mortality rate for women who smoked during pregnancy (9.62) was almost two times higher than for women who did not smoke during pregnancy (5.08).
  • For combined years 2019–2021, fetal mortality rates were highest in Mississippi (6.38) and lowest in New Mexico and Connecticut (2.60).

Key findings from the infant homicides report include:

  • The homicide rate for infants for 2017─2020 was 7.11 per 100,000 births.
  • Approximately half (52%) of homicides in the first year of life occurred among infants 3 months of age or younger.
  • The rate of homicide was higher for male (8.22) than for female (5.95) infants.
  • The homicide rate was highest for infants born to Black mothers (16.21) and lowest for infants born to Asian mothers (2.11).
  • The rate of homicide was four times higher for infants of mothers who were born in the United States (8.51) than for infants of mothers born outside the United States (2.10).