How many infants die every year?

Many babies die in the United States and other countries around the world every year—often from preventable causes.

Infant Mortality in the United States

In the United States, 23,910 children younger than 1 year of age died in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available. This translates to a rate of about 6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Most of these deaths (nearly 16,000) could also be classified as neonatal mortality because they took place in the first 28 days after birth.1

Overall, the U.S. infant mortality rate and the neonatal mortality rate have decreased over the past several decades. This chart shows how rates of infant mortality and neonatal mortality in the United States have dropped since 1950:2

Refer to caption.

Infant and neonatal mortality rates have dropped significantly since the 1950s, from nearly 30 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 1950 to around 6 in 2010 and from slightly more than 20 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births in 1950 to 5 in 2010.

Of the world’s high-income countries, the United States has the highest rate of death on the first day after birth.4

Infant Mortality Worldwide

Worldwide, there were more than 4.9 million deaths among children younger than 1 year of age in 2011. This translates to an average rate of 37 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate was more than 12 times higher in low-income nations (63 deaths per 1,000 live births) than in high-income nations (5 deaths per 1,000 live births) in 2011.3

The global infant mortality rate has dropped by 39% since 1990, when 61 out of every 1,000 children died before 1 year of age.3 

Most of the infant deaths around the world—nearly 3 million—could be classified as neonatal mortality because they took place during the first 28 days after birth. The global neonatal mortality rate has dropped by 31% since 1990, when 32 out of every 1,000 babies died in their first month after birth.3 

Read more about the causes of infant mortality around the world.


  1. Hoyert, D. L., & Xu, J. (2012). Deaths: preliminary data for 2011. National Vital Statistics Reports, 61(6). Retrieved July 23, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_06.pdf (PDF - 891 KB) [top]
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Table 13. Infant mortality rates, fetal mortality rates, and perinatal mortality rates by race: United States, selected years 1950–2010. Health, United States – 2012 ed. Atlanta, GA: Author. [top]
  3. UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation. (2012). Levels & Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2012. New York, NY: United Nations Children’s Fund. [top]
  4. Save the Children. (2013). State of the World’s Mothers 2013. London: Author. [top]

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