Infant Mortality Rate Declines in the United States

Julian Omidi discusses the decline in infant mortality in the United States and the major causes of infant death.

It has been reported that the number of infant deaths in the United States has dropped by 12 percent since the year 2005. Medical researchers credit better education about the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the reduction of deliberate pre-term births and greater health awareness for expectant mothers.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the unexpected death of an infant from undetermined causes. Essentially, any death of an infant who is too young to sit up or turn over unassisted for which no other medical reason can be determined is classified as SIDS. SIDS is more prevalent among male babies, and babies who are allowed to sleep on their stomachs are also more susceptible to SIDS.

SIDS is a controversial subject, since several mothers suffering from Munchausen by Proxy syndrome or other personality disorders have escaped prosecution for the murder of their babies after the cause of death was classified as SIDS. Conversely, some mothers were unjustly prosecuted for murder when the cause of death was later determined to most likely have been SIDS.

Campaigns to raise awareness about the prevention of SIDS are credited with a dramatic reduction of SIDS deaths. Making sure that babies sleep on their backs is one method of safeguarding against SIDS, as is keeping the environment tobacco smoke-free.

Pre-term birth, when the birth is either induced early or due to natural complications, account for nearly a half a million live births, and account for nearly 40 percent of infant deaths. Pre-term or premature births can occur due to preventable issues such as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking or drug use. Pre-term birth can lead to major complications for the child later on, including cerebral palsy, deafness, vision problems and developmental disabilities as well as death.

One major factor in preventing pre-term births is hospitals’ refusal to schedule early deliveries unless medically necessary. Some mothers decide to deliver their babies early for convenience’s sake, but doing so can rob the baby of the final few weeks of critical brain and organ development.

Increased awareness of, and attention to, the overall health of the mother also contributed to the reduction of infant mortality. Complications that can arise from the mother’s diabetes or lack of proper prenatal care have dropped in states that implemented services to improve the health of expectant mothers.

Although the American infant mortality rate has dropped, the rate in the United States is still disturbingly high compared to other developed nations.  The most poverty-stricken regions are still the regions that are most at-risk.We need to increase our awareness of the conditions in which our people live in order to eradicate poverty and all of poverty’s horrible effects.

US Infant Mortality






[1] Goodnough, Abby: US Infant Mortality Rate Fell Steadily From ‘05 to ’11 New York Times 4/17/2013

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