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Infant Mortality

Learn about infant mortality in the United States, including causes and differences in rates among population groups.

About Infant Mortality

Infant mortality is the death of an infant before his or her first birthday. The infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. In addition to giving us key information about maternal and infant health, the infant mortality rate is an important marker of the overall health of a society. In 2015, the infant mortality rate in the United States was 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Causes of Infant Mortality

Over 23,000 infants died in the United States in 2015. The five leading causes of infant death in 2015 were:

  1. Birth defects.
  2. Preterm birth and low birth weight.
  3. Sudden infant death syndrome.
  4. Maternal pregnancy complications.
  5. Injuries (e.g., suffocation).

Infant Mortality Rates by State, 2015

View the Infant Mortality Rates by State Map from the National Center for Health Statistics.

screenshot of map showing infant mortality death rates across the United States. See details on https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/infant_mortality_rates/infant_mortality.htm

 ¹The number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. One of the Healthy People 2020 objectives is to reduce the rate of all infant deaths. In 2015, 27 states met the Healthy People 2020 target of 6.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Geographically, infant mortality rates in 2015 were highest among states in the south. Rates were also high in some states in the Midwest.

Infant Mortality Rates by Race and Ethnicity, 2015

Infant Mortality Rates by Race and Ethnicity, 2015 In 2015, infant mortality rates were higher for non-Hispanic black infants (11.3), American Indian/Alaska Native infants (8.3), and Hispanic infants (5.0), compared with non-Hispanic white infants (4.9). Rates were lowest among Asian/Pacific Islander infants (4.2).

 

*Source: Table 1 (p. 79) of the User Guide to the 2015 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Public Use File – [PDF – 1.27MB].

In 2015, infant mortality rates by race and ethnicity were as follows:

  • Non-Hispanic black infants (11.3)
  • American Indian/Alaska Native infants (8.3)
  • Hispanic infants (5.0)
  • Non-Hispanic white infants (4.9)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander infants (4.2)

CDC Activities

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

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