Infant Mortality: What Is CDC Doing?

CDC is committed to improving birth outcomes. This requires public health agencies working together with health care providers, communities, and partners to reduce infant deaths in the United States. This joint approach can help address the social, behavioral, and health risk factors that affect birth outcomes and contribute to infant mortality. On this page, you will learn about CDC’s research, programs, and other efforts to better understand and reduce infant mortality.

CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health

Improvements in Perinatal Care

PQC logo

CDC provides support to Perinatal Quality Collaboratives (PQCs), which are state or multi-state networks of teams working to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies. Funding supports the capabilities of PQCs to improve the quality of perinatal care in their states, including efforts to reduce preterm birth and improve prematurity outcomes. CDC works with experts to develop resources PQCs can use to further their development. CDC and the March of Dimes also launched the National Network of Perinatal Quality Collaboratives (NNPQC) to support state-based PQCs in making measurable improvements in statewide health care and health outcomes for mothers and babies. The National Institute for Children’s Health Quality currently serves as the coordinating center for the NNPQC.

Improving Our Understanding of SIDS and SUID

SUID & SDY Case Registry logo

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) is the sudden and unexpected death of an infant less than 1 year old without an obvious cause of death before investigation. Most SUIDs are reported as one of three types: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), unknown causes, or accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health has SUID monitoring programs in 22 states and jurisdictions, covering about 1 in 3 SUID cases in the United States. Participating states and jurisdictions use data about SUID trends and circumstances to develop strategies to reduce future deaths. Learn about CDC resources and activities to address SUID and SIDS.

Using Data to Reduce Infant Mortality

PRAMS logo

The Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) was established in 1987 to reduce infant morbidity and mortality. PRAMS collects state-specific, population-based data on maternal attitudes and experiences before, during, and shortly after pregnancy. Forty-six states, New York City, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico currently participate in PRAMS, representing approximately 81% of all U.S. live births. PRAMS data can be used to identify groups of women and infants at high risk for health problems, and to measure progress toward goals in improving the health of mothers and infants. Learn how states are using PRAMS data to help inform efforts to reduce infant mortality at PRAMS Data to Action Success Stories.

a vector art drawing of a cameo with a mother and infant child

Building Support to Improve Maternal and Child Health

The Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Program (MCHEP) assigns epidemiologists and fellows to states, localities, and tribes to support epidemiologic research and provide scientific information to improve maternal and child health programs and policies. Learn about MCHEP assignees and projects and MCHEP accomplishments.

CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

smiling baby

CDC works to identify causes of birth defects, find opportunities to prevent them, and improve the health of those living with birth defects. By applying a public health approach that incorporates three essential elements—disease tracking, research to identify causes, and prevention research and programs—we can rapidly translate scientific findings into appropriate public health interventions. Understanding the potential causes of birth defects can lead to recommendations, policies, and services to help prevent them. CDC works toward a day when every child is born with the best health possible. Learn more about birth defects tracking, research, and prevention.

CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

toddler in a car seat

CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (Injury Center) tracks data trends and conducts research on unintentional childhood injuries, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and child abuse and neglect. CDC is committed to promoting safety by supporting solutions that will save lives and help children live to their fullest potential. CDC’s Injury Center has resources for parents and public health professionals to help prevent child injury, including:

CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics

image of charts and an electronic tablet

The infant mortality rate—the ratio of infant deaths to live births—is an important indicator of the overall health of a population. The mission of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is to provide statistical information that will guide programs and policies to improve the health of the American people. The National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) at NCHS works in partnership with the vital registration systems in each jurisdiction to produce critical information on infant mortality rates including trends and causes, as well as other topics. NCHS also publishes more detailed analyses of infant mortality patterns using linked birth and infant death data.