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CDC: Infant mortality rate rises 3% from 2021-’22, first year-to-year increase in 20 years

November 1, 2023

An estimated 20,538 U.S. infants died in 2022, a 3% increase from the 19,928 deaths in 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System.

The provisional infant mortality rate rose from 5.44 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2021 to 5.6 deaths in 2022. It was the first year-to-year increase in the rate since 2001-’02. The infant mortality rate declined 22% from 2002-’21.

The findings are detailed in the report “Infant Mortality in the United States: Provisional Data From the 2022 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death File” in Vital Statistics Rapid Release.

“The reported increase in infant mortality rates is disturbing and disappointing,” AAP President Sandy L. Chung, M.D., FAAP, said. “We live in a country with abundant resources. Yet the infant mortality rate in the United States is shockingly high. There are many different reasons for this. We do know that families in poverty face many challenges including access to nutritious food and affordable healthcare. Racial and ethnic disparities related to accessible healthcare — including prenatal health services — are just one of the many possible reasons for lower birth weights of babies and sometimes, infant deaths.”

The report also shows increases in infant mortality rates by infant age at death, state of residence, maternal race and Hispanic origin, maternal age, gestational age, sex of the newborn and leading causes of infant death. Provisional data from 2022 are compared with final data from 2021.

Infant age at death

The provisional mortality rate of infants who died at less than 28 days increased 3% from 3.49 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2021 to 3.58 in ’22.

The provisional mortality rate for infants who died from 28 through 364 days increased by 4% (from 1.95 to 2.02).

State of residence

Infant mortality rates increased in Georgia, Iowa, Missouri and Texas and declined in Nevada. Changes in the remaining states and the District of Columbia were not significant.

Maternal race and Hispanic origin

Mortality rates increased significantly among infants of American Indian and Alaska Native non-Hispanic women (from 7.46 per 1,000 live births to 9.06) and White non-Hispanic women (from 4.36 to 4.52).

Mortality rates increased slightly for infants of Black non-Hispanic women (10.55 to 10.86), Hispanic women (4.79 to 4.88) and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander non-Hispanic women (7.76 to 8.5).

The only race to see a decrease was Asian non-Hispanic women (3.69 to 3.5).

Chart of infant mortality rates by race

Maternal age

Mortality rates increased significantly for infants of women ages 25-29 (from 5.15 to 5.37 infant deaths per 1,000 live births).

Gestational age

Mortality rates increased significantly for all infants born at less than 37 weeks’ gestation from 33.59 to 34.69 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Rates increased among infants born at less than 34 weeks’ gestation from 103.08 to 107.61 and infants born at less than 28 weeks (353.76 to 363.17).

There was no significant change for infants born at 34-36 weeks (8.11 to 8.28).

Infant sex

The mortality rate increased significantly for male infants (from 5.83 to 6.06 deaths per 1,000 live births). No significant change was seen for females (from 5.02 to 5.12).

Leading causes of death

Mortality rates increased for two of the 10 leading causes of death: maternal complications (from 30.4 to 33 infant deaths per 100,000 live births) and bacterial sepsis (15.3 to 17.4).

Findings are based on all linked birth/infant death records received and processed by the National Center for Health Statistics for the calendar year 2022 as of July 27, 2023.

Chart of the leading causes of infant deaths

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