US Infant Mortality Rate Rises For First Time In Over 20 Years

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Nov 03, 2023 - 10:40 PM

U.S. infant mortality rate rose 3%, with 20,538 deaths recorded in 2022, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Wednesday.

As Statista's Katharina Buchholz reports, the rate had been almost continuously falling since CDC records began in 1995, even though in an international comparison, the U.S. stays behind most developed nations in this metric.

Infographic: U.S. Infant Mortality Rate Rises in 2022 | Statista

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Infant mortality is the death of a child before its first birthday.

Infant deaths between 2 and 11 months of age rose faster than the average infant mortality rate at 4 percent, while those between birth and 28 days of age rose by 3 percent as well.

Two common causes for infant death - pregnancy complications and meningitis - became more prevalent.

Experts interviewed by news outlets said that the reasons for the increase were not quite clear yet and offered different explanations for parts of it, for example infectious diseases on the upswing after social distancing ended, expanding maternity care deserts in the country, unwanted pregnancies continuing to term due to abortion bans, an increase of maternal complications due to Covid-19 and more women in general starting pregnancy with underlying health conditions like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure as these become more prevalent in the population.

While Black and native populations have the highest infant mortality rates in the United States, statistically significant increase in 2022 happened among white and American Indian/Alaska Native populations specifically.

The increase in the overall rate was the first statistically significant one since 2002 and researchers are not sure if it will continue. However, a smaller increase between 2020 and 2021 as well as data for the beginning of 2023 are pointing in this direction.

Additionally, Statista's Buchholz points out that even though the world has made progress in reducing the mortality rate of children under the age of one, infant deaths continue to be prevalent in developing countries.

Especially post-neonatal deaths - those occurring between the ages of 2 and 11 months - continue with a higher prevalence in lower-income countries, the same as deaths between the ages of 1 and 4 years.

North America and the United States specifically are an outlier in the statistic, ranking behind Europe and other high-income nations for all types of child mortality.

Infographic: Progress in the Global Fight Against Child Mortality | Statista

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According to the data, infants in the African countries of Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Somalia and Nigeria have the greatest risk of not reaching their first birthday.

Mortality rates exceed 70 in 1,000 live births in all four nations. Pakistan is the lowest ranked country not on the African continent at 52.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

Estonia is at the opposite end of the spectrum with an infant mortality rate of 1.6 per 1,000 live births, the highest-ranked non-micro nation.

Japan ranked second, sharing with Singapore, followed by Norway, Finland and Slovenia in rank 3.

"The U.S. is falling behind on a basic indicator of how well societies treat people," said Arjumand Siddiqi, a University of Toronto professor who studies population health, to the Wall Street Journal.

"In a country as well-resourced as the U.S., with as much medical technology and so on, we shouldn't have babies dying in the first year of life. That should be super rare, and it's not."

Researchers will have to examine next year's data to determine whether it's a "blip" or an indicator of an "underlying health care issue," said Danielle Ely, a National Center for Health Statistics health statistician and one of the report's authors, to CNN.