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5. Infant Mortality Rates

Infant mortality is defined as the death of an infant during the first year of life. A community’s infant mortality rate is usually expressed as the number of deaths per 1,000 live births.  Some of the leading causes of infant mortality in the U.S. are congenital malformations, deformities and chromosomal abnormalities, disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome.

What Can the Data Tell Us?

In addition to being a clear child outcome, data on infant mortality rates is used as a proxy for population health.  Here, national and state data (Table 11) is broken down by race/ethnicity. Using infant mortality data helps to assess how healthy a specific ethnic/racial group is, it also helps to focus resources and implement programs that are tailored to the specific needs of a population. At the national level, the data highlight how black, non-Hispanic infants are twice as likely to die within the first year as white or Hispanic infants. In some states the likelihood that a black, non-Hispanic infant will die within the first year more than triples. Significant focus and resources are needed to reduce infant mortality rates for the black, non-Hispanic population.

Table 11. Infant mortality rates (Per 1,000 Live Births) by race/ethnicity, U.S. and states, 2008-2010