September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month
Infant mortality is defined as death of an infant before they are one year old. In the most recent data from 2014, 6 babies died before their first birthday for every 1,000 babies (so an infant mortality rate of .6%). That equals more than 23,000 babies. Many countries across the globe – 25 industrialized nations according the US Centers for Disease Control – do much better than we do with rates below .6%
The rate of infant mortality in the United States has gone down, due to knowledge and awareness. Our goal is to get this number even lower. The loss of a baby is a terrible tragedy for parents, families and the communities. Learn more about it.
Differences for Different Communities
While infant mortality was at its lowest in 2014 overall, some areas reached rates of 8 or more deaths per 1,000 babies. Healthy People provides nation-wide, ten-year objectives for improving the health of all citizens. The Healthy People 2020 goal for infant mortality rate is .6%. While many states have reached that objective, many have not. In addition, disparities exist among racial and ethnic groups with higher rates for non-Hispanic Black infants and American Indian/Alaska Native infants.
Top Causes of Infant Mortality
The biggest factors of infant mortality include:
- Preterm birth (which accounted for 36% of infant deaths).
- Low weight at birth
- Birth defects
- Pregnancy complications
- Sudden unexpected infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Unintentional injuries/accidents
Not all of these conditions are easily preventable. Good pre-natal and ongoing healthcare for mother and baby can help. Safe sleep practices can also make a difference. Safe sleep can help to reduce the risk of SIDS as well as accidental suffocation. Safe sleep recommendations are sometimes overlooked and is something we always try to share. Read more about safe sleep.
Tips for Safe Sleep
To reduce the risk of SIDS during sleep, your infant should…
- sleep on their back
- sleep on a firm surface such as a mattress or a safe crib
- sleep alone
- sleep without toys and blankets in the crib
Learn more about infant mortality at http://www.cdc.gov/features/infantmortality/