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Infant Mortality

What Is It?

Infant mortality rate refers to the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births over a period of one year. 

There are three categories of infant mortality:

  • Perinatal mortality refers to the death of a fetus of at least 28 weeks' gestation through the death of a newborn up to a week postpartum.
  • Neonatal mortality refers to the death of a newborn within 28 days of its birth. 
  • Postneonatal mortality refers to the death of children aged 29 days to one year. 

How Is It Calculated?

A country's infant mortality rate is calculated by identifying the number of children dying under one year of age, dividing that number by the number of live births during the year, and multiplying the resulting number by 1,000.

What Does It Mean?

A country's infant mortality rate provides information about both an infant’s and mother’s health and is a broader indication of the overall health of the population. The percentage of infant deaths within each category can provide further information on a country's health.

  • A high perinatal mortality rate is an indicator of insufficient maternal care, including inadequate prenatal nutrition.
  • A high neonatal mortality rate can indicate problems with access to basic medical care, both during pregnancy and after delivery. This category of infant mortality accounts for as much as 60 percent of infant deaths in developing countries.
  • A high postneonatal mortality rate can result from problems in the population such as food insecurity and malnutrition and insufficient vaccination and disease prevention measures. It can also point up cultural issues such as gender favoritism and socioeconomic factors such as maternal education.