Infant mortality is defined as the death of an infant before his or her first birthday. From it comes the infant mortality rate, the number of children dying under a year of age divided by the number of live births that year.
The infant mortality rate serves as an important measure of the well-being of infants, older children, and pregnant women because it is associated with a variety of factors, such as maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and public health practices.
Infant Mortality in the United States
In the US, about two-thirds of infant deaths occur in the first month after birth and are due mostly to health problems of the infant or the pregnancy, such as preterm delivery or birth defects. About one-third of infant deaths occur after the first month and are influenced greatly by social or environmental factors, such as exposure to cigarette smoke or problems with access to health care.
The US Government ChildStats Health Indicators include the following statistical information concerning the infant mortality rate:
Overall Trends in Infant Mortality in the 1990s
The infant mortality rate in the US, which was 12.5 per 1,000 live births in 1980, fell to 9.2 per 1,000 live births in 1990.
However, the death rate among black infants remained nearly two and a half times that among white infants.
Last Editorial Review: 8/6/2000