Is Infant Death Increasing Or Decreasing?
Data from the CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) shows that infant deaths* are increasing. The number increased from 5.40 deaths per 1,000 live births in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021 to 5.59 deaths per 1,000 live births at the end of the last quarter (Q4) of 2022. (1)
There’s also a slight increase in neonatal mortality** from 3.56 in 2021 Q1 to 3.58 in 2022 Q4.
Postneonatal mortality*** also increased from 1.85 in 2021 Q1 to 2.02 in 2022 Q4.
*Infants are defined in the report as babies under one year of age
**Neonates are defined in the report as newborns 0-27 days old
***Postneonates are defined in the report as babies from 28 days through 11 months
What’s The US Infant Death Rate By Year?
Based on provisional data from the CDC, the following are the infant mortality rates: (1)(2)
- 2022: 5.60 infant deaths per 1,000 live births (3% higher than 2021)
- 2021: 5.44 infant deaths per 1,000 live births
The neonatal mortality rate also increased by 3%: (1)(2)
- 2022: 3.58 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births
- 2021: 3.49 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births
The postneonatal mortality rate increased by 4%: (1)(2)
- 2022: 2.02 postneonatal deaths per 1,000 live births
- 2021: 1.95 postneonatal deaths per 1,000 live births
The CDC data reported above shows the relative mortality rates based on 1,000 live births. However, the actual numbers are high. (1)(2)
Based on CDC provisional data, there were 20,538 infant deaths out of 3,667,758 live births in the US in 2022. (2)
These 2022 numbers are higher by 3% than the 2021 data, reporting 19,928 infant deaths out of 3,664,292 live births. (2)
These stats are broken down into the following for 2022 (out of 3,667,758 live births): (2)
- Neonatal deaths: 13,120
- Postneonatal deaths: 7,418
These are the stats for 2021 (out of 3,664,292 live births): (2)
- Neonatal deaths: 12,797
- Postneonatal deaths: 7,131
What Are The Leading Causes Of Infant Deaths In The United States?
Still based on the CDC data, the following are the leading reasons for infant mortality in 2022: (2)
- Congenital malformations: 4,000
- Short gestation and low birthweight (without other classifications or causes): 2,876
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS): 1,458
- Accidents (unintentional injuries): 1,349
- Maternal complications of pregnancy: 1,209
- Bacterial sepsis of newborn: 637
- Complications of placenta, cord, & membranes: 631
- Respiratory distress of newborn: 458
- Diseases of the circulatory system: 358
- Neonatal hemorrhage: 336
It’s estimated that nursery products may be responsible for 160 children’s deaths annually, plus thousands of injuries, including those treated in the emergency room or required further treatment. (3)
You can also read our article on toy-related deaths or injuries because some infant fatalities were due to choking on small toys or suffocating on stuffed toys.
Why Did Infant Mortality Increase?
Among the 10 leading causes of death from 2021 to 2022, the following had the highest increase: (2)
- Maternal complications (from 30.4 to 33.0 infant deaths per 100,000 live births)
- Bacterial sepsis of newborns (from 15.3 to 17.4 infant deaths per 100,000 live births)
How Can You Reduce The Risks Of Infant Mortality?
Some ways to reduce infant mortality risks: (7)
- Have a healthy and safe pregnancy by regularly visiting your OB-GYNE for prenatal check-ups to prevent or reduce the risks of pregnancy complications, birth defects, low birth weight, and other post-birth issues.
- Make sure you take prenatal supplements and eat foods rich in iron, choline, iodine, DHA and EPA, fish oil, and other vitamins or nutrients your health provider recommends.
- Follow the safe sleep guidelines, especially about letting your baby sleep in a firm, flat, and clutter-free environment such as a bassinet or crib and a suitable crib mattress (without loose blankets, pillows, or crib bumpers). This can help reduce the risks of SIDS and accidental suffocation or strangulation.
- Inclined sleepers can be dangerous for babies to sleep in.
- Babyproof your home and install baby gates, wherever needed, to reduce injury risks.
- Regularly take your baby to their pediatrician for follow-up check-ups and whenever they get sick.
- Avoid giving probiotics to premature babies unless you’ve discussed all your options with their healthcare provider. The FDA warns that these can be dangerous to preemies. (4)
- Get help addressing low birth weight and preterm births to reduce the risks of further complications.
- Studies have also shown that pacifiers might help reduce SIDS risks. (5)(6)
- Whenever applicable, use newborn screening or tests to detect hidden conditions, such as SCID (severe combined immune deficiency) and PKU (phenylketonuria; the body can’t digest or process phenylalanine, leading to possible intellectual and developmental disability). (8)
- Monitor product recalls (e.g., baby food recalls, formula recalls, inclined sleepers recall, baby wipes recalls, pacifier recalls, stroller recalls, crib recalls, candy recalls, toy recalls, etc.) to ensure that you keep your baby away from unsafe, contaminated products.
- Take advantage of new technology to help prevent child hot car deaths.