Infant mortality

Infant mortality is the death of infants in the first year of life. Major causes of infant mortality include congenital malformation, infection and SIDS.

Infanticide, abuse, abandonment, and neglect may also contribute to infant mortality.

Related statistical categories:

  • Perinatal mortality only includes deaths between the foetal viability (28 weeks gestation or 1000g) and the end of the 7th day after delivery.
  • Neonatal mortality only includes deaths in the first 27 days of life.
  • Post-neonatal death only includes deaths after 28 days of life but before one year.
  • Child mortality includes deaths within the first five years.

Infant mortality rate is the number of newborns dying under a year of age divided by the number of live births during the year. The infant mortality rate is also called the infant death rate. In past times, infant mortality claimed a considerable percentage of children born, but the rates have significantly declined in the West in modern times, mainly due to improvements in basic health care, though high technology medical advances have also helped. Infant mortality rate is commonly included as a part of standard of living evaluations in economics.

Infant mortality rate (IMR) is reported as number of live newborns dying under a year of age per one thousand live births, so that IMRs from different countries can be compared. A good source for the most recent IMR's as well as under 5 mortality rates (U5MR) is the UNICEF publication 'The State of the World's Children' available at For example, the worst U5MR is 284 in Sierra Leone. (That's 28% of all children born die before they turn 5 years old.) The 29 countries with the highest U5MR are in Africa. The U5MR of the United States is 8/1000, and there are 31 countries with lower U5MRs. Sweden's is the lowest at 3.

The most common cause of IMR of all children around the world has traditionally been dehydration from diarrhea. Because of the success of spreading information about Oral Rehydration Solution (a mixture of salts, sugar and water) to mothers around the world, the rate of children dying from dehydration has been decreasing and has become the second most common cause in the late 1990s. Currently the most common cause is pneumonia.


Global Infant Mortality Trends

For the world, and for both Less Developed Countries (LDCs) and More Developed Countries (MDC) IMR declined significantly between 1960 and 2001. World infant mortality rate declined from 198 in 1960 to 83 in 2001.

However, IMR remained higher in LDCs. In 2001, the Infant Mortality Rate for Less Developed Countries (91) was about 10 times as large as it was for More Developed Countries (8). For Least Developed Countries, the Infant Mortality Rate is 17 times as high as it is for More Developed Countries. Also, while both LDCs and MDCs made dramatic reductions in infant mortality rates, reductions among less developed countries are much less than are reductions among the more developed countries, on average.

Related uses for the term

The term infant mortality is also used in an analogous fashion in reliability theory to describe the early failure of any system or component in a system.


External links

pt:Mortalidade infantil


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