On average, the infant mortality rate in the United States of America has hovered from 0.5% to 0.7% of children. To be more specific, the mortality rate of infants in 2020 was estimated to be 5.5 deaths out of every 1,000 infants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published data that estimated the average infant mortality rate across the nation in other years: 2017, 5.8 deaths per 1,000 infants; 2016, 5.9 deaths per 1,000 infants; 2015 5.9 deaths per 1,000 infants; 2015, 5.9 deaths per 1,000 infants; 2014, 5.8 deaths per 1,000 infants; and 2005, 7.1 deaths per 1,000 infants.
Some of the causes of infant mortality rates being as high as they include babies being born premature, complications during pregnancy, fatal birth defects, and health problems and injuries. Focusing on the most recent data from 2020, let’s first look at the number of infant deaths that took place in each state during that year.
Mississippi had the highest infant mortality rate in 2020 with 8.12 deaths per 1,000. This is the only state with an average of eight deaths per thousand. Other states with high infant mortality rates include Louisiana (7.59), Arkansas (7.38), West Virginia (7.33), and South Dakota (7.30).
The majority of states have an infant mortality rate of 4 to 7 per 1,000. Only four states have infant mortality rates that are lower. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and California are all close with rates of 3.96, 3.94, and 3.92 respectively. Vermont had an infant mortality rate of 0, as there were only 18 infant deaths during the year.
Infant mortality rates are helpful when comparing death rates between states and condensing large numbers into consumable figures. But it can be hard to fully understand the gravity and intensity of infant deaths simply by learning about mortality rates. Looking at the number of actual deaths helps to see how large of an issue this is nationwide and how many infants die each year.
While numbers stay fairly consistent in each state year to year, the majority of America had a higher infant mortality rate in 2017 than the death toll of infants in 2020. This follows a trend as the numbers decreased in general from 2014 to 2017 as well.
This discrepancy can be attributed to causes of infant deaths such as better medical practices, more knowledge on dangers that pose a threat to young children, a heightened awareness of accidental deaths that result from conditions like SIDs, greater levels of supervision, and a plethora of other variables. It is not possible to say that one thing explicitly caused more infants to die in 2014 than in 2020, but even so, it is positive to see the death toll of infants going down.