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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Infant Mortality

Infant mortality is defined as the death of an infant before his or her first birthday. Infant mortality is related to the underlying health of the mother, public health practices, socioeconomic conditions, and availability and use of appropriate health care for infants and pregnant women.10 In the United States, about two-thirds of infant deaths occur in the first month after birth and are due mostly to health problems of the infant, such as birth defects, or problems related to the pregnancy, such as preterm delivery.

Indicator Health2: Death rates among infants by race and Hispanic origin of mother, 1983–1991 and 1995–2011
Death rates among infants by race and Hispanic origin of mother, 1983–1991 and 1995–2011

NOTE: Infant deaths are deaths before an infant's first birthday. Data from the file linking live births to infant deaths are available for 1983–1991 and 1995–2009 only. The mortality rate for 2010 was obtained from unlinked death records from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). The rate for 2011 was obtained from preliminary unlinked death records of the NVSS. These data are not currently available from the National Linked Files of Live Births and Infant Deaths. Race refers to mother's race. The 1977 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) standards for data on race and ethnicity were used to classify persons into one of the following four racial groups: White, Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, or Asian or Pacific Islander. Although state reporting of birth certificate data is transitioning to comply with the 1997 OMB standard for race and ethnicity statistics, data from states reporting multiple races were bridged to the single-race categories of the 1977 OMB standards for comparability with other states. Data on race and Hispanic origin are collected and reported separately. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Trends for the Hispanic population are affected by an expansion in the number of registration areas that included an item on Hispanic origin on the birth certificate.

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System.

  • The infant mortality rate of 6.0 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 was not statistically different from the rate of 6.1 in 2010.
  • Substantial racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality continue. Black, non-Hispanic and American Indian or Alaskan Native infants have consistently had higher infant mortality rates than those of other racial or ethnic groups. For example, in 2009, the Black, non-Hispanic infant mortality rate was 12.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births and the American Indian or Alaskan Native rate was 8.5 per 1,000 live births; both rates were higher than the rates among White, non-Hispanic (5.3 per 1,000 live births), Hispanic (5.3 per 1,000 live births), and Asian or Pacific Islander (4.4 per 1,000 live births) infants.
  • Infant mortality rates also vary within racial and ethnic populations. For example, among Hispanics in the United States, the infant mortality rate for 2009 ranged from a low of 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births for infants of Central and South American origin to a high of 7.2 per 1,000 live births for Puerto Rican infants.

table icon HEALTH2 HTML Table

10 Hamilton, B.E., Martin, J.A., and Ventura, S.J. (2012). Births: Preliminary data for 2011. National Vital Statistics Reports, 61(5). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.