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America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2020

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 the availability and use of appropriate health care for infants and pregnant women.47, 48

Figure 18: Death rates among infants by race and Hispanic origin of mother and metropolitan status, 2017–2018
Figure 18: Death rates among infants by race and Hispanic origin of mother and metropolitan status, 2017–2018

‡ Reporting standards not met; the number of deaths is too few to calculate a reliable rate.

NOTE: NH = non-Hispanic origin. Infant deaths are deaths before an infant's first birthday. Among Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander infants, the number of infant deaths is generally too small to meet reliability standards and therefore are not shown. Race refers to the mother's race. The 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) standards on race and ethnicity are used to classify persons into one of the following racial groups: White, Black or African American, Asian, and American Indian or Alaska Native. All categories are single race. Included in the total, but not shown separately, are people reporting two or more races. Data on race and Hispanic origin are collected and reported separately. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. The OMB classifies counties as within a metropolitan or a micropolitan statistical area. The remaining counties are not classified and are considered rural in this report. Rural counties may include small urban areas, as well as completely rural areas. Nonmetropolitan counties include counties in micropolitan statistical and rural areas.

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

  • In 2017–2018, the infant mortality rate was 6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Infant mortality rates were highest in rural counties (6.8 per 1,000), followed by micropolitan counties (6.4 per 1,000) and metropolitan counties (5.6 per 1,000).
  • In 2017–2018, the mortality rate was 11 per 1,000 for Black, non-Hispanic; 9 per 1,000 for American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic; 5 per 1,000 for White, non-Hispanic; 5 per 1,000 for Hispanic; and 4 per 1,000 for Asian, non-Hispanic infants.
  • For White, non-Hispanic infants in 2017–2018, the mortality rate was higher for those living in rural and micropolitan counties than those living in metropolitan counties.
  • For Black, non-Hispanic and Asian, non-Hispanic infants in 2017–2018, the mortality rate was higher for those living in micropolitan counties than those living in metropolitan counties.
  • For Hispanic and American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic infants in 2017–2018, the mortality rate was higher for those living in rural counties than those living in micropolitan and metropolitan counties.

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47 Martin, J. A., Hamilton, B. E., Osterman, M. J. K., Curtin, S. C., & Matthews, T. J. (2015). Births: Final data for 2013. National Vital Statistics Reports, 64(1), 1–65. Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_01.pdf

48 Ely, D. M., Driscoll, A. K., & Mathews, T. J. (2018). Infant mortality by age at death in the United States, 2016 (NCHS Data Brief No. 326). Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db326-h.pdf