Infant Mortality: Topic Information

What is infant mortality?

Infant mortality is the term used to describe the death of a baby that occurs between the time it is born and 1 year of age. If a baby dies before age 28 days, the death can also be classified as neonatal mortality.

The infant mortality rate—that is, the number of infant deaths out of every 1,000 live births—is an important factor in understanding a population’s overall health because many factors that contribute to infant deaths also affect the health of everyone in a population.1 For example, access to medicine, trained health care providers, clean water, and food affect everyone’s health, but can also have a dramatic effect on infant mortality rates.

The term “infant mortality” refers only to deaths that occur after birth. Deaths that occur before birth are usually classified as either stillbirth or pregnancy loss. Stillbirth is the death of a fetus at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Pregnancy loss, or miscarriage, is a fetal loss that occurs earlier in pregnancy.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Infant mortality. Retrieved July 23, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/MaternalInfantHealth/InfantMortality.htm [top]

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