(The Hill) — The infant mortality rate in the U.S. rose for the first time in 20 years last year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with significant increases observed in two of the top causes of death.
Between 2021 and 2022, infant deaths in the U.S. rose by 3% or 5.60 fatalities per 1,000 live births. The mortality rate for newborns also increased by 3% while the mortality rate for non-newborn infants rose by 4%. The CDC noted this goes against a nearly 20-year trend.
“The infant mortality rate for the United States rose 3% from 2021 to 2022, the first year-to-year increase in the rate since 2001 to 2002,” the agency’s report stated. “From 2002 to 2021, the infant mortality rate declined 22%.”
The mortality rate among infants born to American Indian and Alaska Native non-Hispanic and White non-Hispanic mothers rose significantly more than the overall change, the CDC noted in its report. The changes in mortality rates observed among infants born to Black; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; Hispanic; and Asian mothers were not statistically significant.
Four states were observed as having seen significantly increased infant mortality rates — Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, and Texas — while Nevada was the single state to see significant drops in mortality in 2022.
Across different age groups of mother, the infant mortality rate was only observed to rise among women between the ages of 25 and 29 between 2021 and 2022. Mortality rates also rose for all preterm infants, those born before 37 weeks of gestation, as well as male infants.
Among the top 10 leading causes of infant death, two rose significantly last year: maternal complications of pregnancy and bacterial sepsis of newborns. The top cause of infant mortality in 2022 was congenital malformations.
The agency noted the dataset is provisional and has yet to undergo a more comprehensive review so the final numbers may be slightly different.
The U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate when compared to other developed countries. According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, America’s infant mortality rate is one the top 10 highest among its 38 member states, ranking higher than Canada, the U.K., Australia, South Korea and Japan.
Many countries have infant mortality rates that are drastically higher, with India and South Africa reporting more than 25 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births.