Infant mortality is the death of children under the age of one year. The infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Overall, infant mortality rates have significantly decreased all over the world.
Infant mortality in the United States is mostly caused by congenital disabilities, preterm birth and low birth weight, maternal pregnancy complications, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and injuries (such as suffocation). Around the world, the top causes for infant mortality are neonatal encephalopathy (problems with brain function due to lack of oxygen during birth), infections, complications of preterm birth, lower respiratory infections, and diarrheal diseases. Causes differ for infants that are only a few days old and for older infants. The mortality rate in the United States is 5.8. This rate is significantly higher than other comparable developed countries, but the reason is more complicated than raw statistics. Infant mortality is defined differently in different countries. For example, some countries don't include stillborn babies born or use a different definition of an infant.
In countries where infant mortality is high, several factors are attributed to necessitating these deaths. Among these are poverty, malaria, malnutrition, undeveloped infrastructure, and poor health facilities conditions. Many countries with high infant mortality rates also have high birth rates and fertility rates.
Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate of 110.6. Much of Afghanistan is rural and recovering from years of conflict. Because communities are very spread out, and most people travel by foot, accessing healthcare is very difficult, especially for pregnant women and young babies. There is also a significant lack of health education in Afghanistan, so pregnancy complications are often untreated. Afghanistan has a fertility rate of 4.412 births per woman, well above the global average of 2.4, and a birth rate of 37.9, the 12th-highest globally.
Monaco has the lowest infant mortality rate of 1.8. The reasons for such a low infant mortality rate include the overall extreme wealth of the small country, highly educated mothers, and a sound healthcare system.