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America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2016

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.71 Despite medical advances and public health efforts, the mortality rates of Black, non-Hispanic and American Indian or Alaska Native infants have been consistently higher than the rates of other racial and ethnic groups.72, 73 A higher percentage of preterm births accounts for most of the higher infant mortality for Black, non-Hispanic infants. Higher rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), birth defects, preterm births, and injuries account for much of the higher infant mortality among American Indian or Alaska Native infants.74

Figure 27: Death rates among infants by race and Hispanic origin of mother, 1999–2013
Death rates among infants by race and Hispanic origin of mother, 1999–2013

NOTE: Infant deaths are deaths before an infant's first birthday. Race refers to mother's race. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Data on race and Hispanic origin are collected and reported separately. Data from states reporting multiple races were bridged to the single-race categories of the 1977 Office of Management and Budget Standards for Data on Race and Ethnicity for comparability with other states.

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

  • In 2013, the infant mortality rates were 11.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births for Black, non-Hispanics; 7.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births for American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanics; 5.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births for White, non-Hispanics; 5.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births for Hispanics; and 3.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births for Asian or Pacific Islander, non-Hispanics.
  • From 1999 to 2013, the total infant mortality rate declined by 1 percentage point. During the same time period, the infant mortality rate declined by 3 points for Black, non-Hispanic infants and 1 point for White, non-Hispanic; Asian or Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic; and Hispanic infants. Infant mortality for American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic infants was stable from 1999 to 2013.
  • Despite the declines in infant mortality between 1999 and 2013, rates for Black, non-Hispanic and American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic infants remained higher than the rates for White, non-Hispanic; Hispanic; and Asian or Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic infants throughout the entire period.

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71 Martin, J. A., Hamilton, B. E., Osterman, M. J. K., Curtin, S. C., & Mathews, T. J. (2015). Births: Final data for 2013. National Vital Statistics Reports, 64(1), 1–65. Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40535.pdf

72 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). CDC health disparities and inequalities report—United States, 2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(3 Suppl.), 1–186. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/other/su6203.pdf

73 Krieger, N., Rehkopf, D. H., Chen, J. T., Waterman, P. D., Marcelli, E., & Kennedy, M. (2008). The fall and rise of U.S. inequalities in premature mortality: 1960–2002. PLOS Medicine, 5(2), e46. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050046

74 MacDorman, M. F., & Mathews, T.J. (2011). Understanding racial and ethnic disparities in U.S. Infant mortality rates(NCHS Data Brief No. 74). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db74.pdf