More American Babies Dying

September is Baby Safety Month. Nothing highlights the need for more awareness and action, when it comes to baby safety, than the statistics on infant mortality in the U.S. compared to other countries. There are many factors that contribute to infant mortality rates, including premature birth. What is most shocking is that we rank so poorly, compared to other countries, in deaths of full term babies who we would expect to do well.

According to one report, the U.S. infant mortality rate is more than double that of some other developed countries.

23,000 Infant Deaths in 2014

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there were 23,000 infant deaths in the U.S. in 2014. Infant deaths only include live births and are defined as death before the baby’s first birthday. The CDC says that the top five causes of infant death in 2014 were responsible for about 57% of the deaths and were as follows:

  • Birth defects
  • Premature births and low birth weight
  • Complicated pregnancies
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Injuries

How We Rank

In 2015, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that we would rank 167th out of the 224 countries it monitors for infant mortality rates (IMR), with #1 being the highest IMR rate. The IMR rate is the number of infant death per 1,000 live births. Our IMR for 2015 was estimated at 5.87, putting us between Slovakia and Croatia. Afghanistan had the highest IMR of 115.08 and Monaco had the lowest at only 1.82.

According to the CDC, in 2010 we had 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. In the U.S., we count all babies born alive as live births. Many countries only count babies born at 24 weeks of gestation or later. When adjusted to compared to those countries our rate was 4.2 deaths per 1,000. The CDC’s study compared the U.S. with 11 European countries. Nine other countries had a better overall survival rate. For very premature babies, we ranked 5th, but when it came to full term babies our survival rate was the worst.

Why a baby dies it is often the result of circumstances beyond parents’ control, but there are steps that you can take that may prevent your baby from becoming a statistic. To learn more about how to keep your baby safe, read about Crib Safety and Recognizing Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Avatar About Sandra Dalton

With a background as a paralegal, focusing on criminal defense and civil rights, Sandra Dalton launched her freelance writing career in 2000 with a weekly column on Freedom for Suite 101 and pro bono projects for individuals and organizations supporting causes close to her heart. One of her first projects was for the Police Compliant Center writing about police misconduct. Sandra’s legal writing quickly expanded to include personal injury, animal welfare, criminal defense, disability discrimination, family law and much more.