Infant Mortality

What is Infant Mortality?

Infant mortality rate (IMR) is the number of deaths per 1,000 live births of children under one year of age. The rate for a given region is the number of children dying under one year of age, divided by the number of live births during the year, multiplied by 1,000.

Other leading causes of infant mortality are birth asphyxia, pneumonia, term birth complications such as abnormal presentation of the foetus umbilical cord prolapse, or prolonged labor, neonatal infection, diarrhea, malaria, measles and malnutrition. Improving sanitation, access to clean drinking water, immunization against infectious diseases, and other public health measures can help reduce high rates of infant mortality.

twinsThroughout the world, Infant Mortality Rate fluctuates drastically, and according to Biotechnology and Health Sciences, education and life expectancy in the country is the leading indicator of IMR. This study was conducted across 135 countries over the course of 11 years with Africa having the highest Infant Mortality Rate of any other region studied with 68 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Infant mortality pertains to deaths of young children, typically those less than one year of age. It is measured by the infant mortality rate, which is the number of deaths of children under one year of age per 1000 live births. The Under-Five Mortality Rate is also an important statistic considering the Infant Mortality Rate has a strict limit on focusing on children only under one year of age.

Forms of infant mortality

Environmental and social barriers prevent access to basic medical resources and thus contribute to an increasing infant mortality rate; 99% of infant deaths occur in developing countries, and 86% of these deaths are due to infections, premature births, complications during delivery, and perinatal asphyxia and birth injuries. Greatest percentage reduction of infant mortality occurs in countries that already have low rates of infant mortality. In the United States, a primary determinant of infant mortality risk is infant birth weight with lower birth weights increasing the risk of infant mortality.

Socio-economic factors

Social class is a major factor in infant mortality, both historically and today. In cases where the father had no income, the rate of infant mortality was 357% more than that for the highest income earners ($1,250+). African-American mothers experience infant mortality at a rate 44% higher than average; however, research indicates that socio-economic factors do not totally account for the racial disparities in infant mortality.

Child mortality is the death of a child before the child’s fifth birthday, measured as the Under-5 Child Mortality Rate (U5MR). Greatest percentage reduction of infant mortality occurs in countries that already have low rates of infant mortality. In the United States, a primary determinant of infant mortality risk is infant birth weight with lower birth weights increasing the risk of infant mortality. African-American mothers experience infant mortality at a rate 44% higher than average; however, research indicates that socio-economic factors do not totally account for the racial disparities in infant mortality.

Medical

Causes of infant mortality that are related to medical conditions include: low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, malnutrition and infectious diseases, including neglected tropical diseases.

The Under-Five Mortality Rate is also an important statistic considering the Infant Mortality Rate has a strict limit on focusing on children only under one year of age.

Perinatal mortality is late fetal death (22 weeks gestation to birth), or death of a newborn up to one week postpartum.

Neonatal mortality is newborn death occurring within 28 days postpartum. Neonatal death is often attributed to inadequate access to basic medical care, during pregnancy and after delivery. This accounts for 40– 60% of infant mortality in developing countries.
Postneonatal mortality is the death of children aged 29 days to one year. The major contributors to postneonatal death are malnutrition, infectious disease, troubled pregnancy, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and problems with the home environment.

Environmental

Infant mortality rate can be a measure of a nation’s health and social condition. It is a composite of a number of component rates which have their separate relationship with various social factors and can often be seen as an indicator to measure the level of socioeconomic disparity within a country.

Additional Resources

Infant mortality rate is falling
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