December 15, 2015

New Low in U.S. Infant Mortality Rate

Baby girl smilingThe infant mortality rate in the U.S. dropped 2.3 percent to a historic low in 2014, according to new federal data. The reduction means more children will get off to a strong, healthy start in life, leading to better long-term health outcomes.

The U.S. infant mortality rate is now 5.82 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rate has been steadily declining since a peak in 2005.

“This is wonderful news, and it reinforces that the collaborative work happening by organizations and agencies to implement preventative strategies to reduce infant mortality—like reducing non-medically indicated early deliveries and preventing preterm birth—is having an impact,” says NICHQ CEO Scott D. Berns, MD, MPH, FAAP.

One concern, however, is that equity gaps remain. The infant mortality rate for African Americans is still nearly double that of Caucasians. And, the leading causes of infant death remain unchanged. The top five are: congenital malformations, low birth weight, maternal complications, sudden infant death syndrome and unintended injuries.

NICHQ is leading the national Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN), along with the U.S. Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). The project engages federal, state and local leaders, public and private agencies, professionals and communities to reduce infant mortality and improve birth outcomes through quality improvement, innovation and collaborative learning. The states in the IM CoIIN have identified six strategy areas to focus the collective work:
  • Improve safe sleep practices
  • Reduce smoking before, during and/or after pregnancy
  • Optimize pre- and interconception care
  • Prevent preterm and early term births
  • Support risk-appropriate perinatal care
  • Improve social determinants of health and equity in birth outcomes
“For years, regional, state and local efforts to reduce infant mortality and improve birth outcomes have existed,” says IM CoIIN Project Director Elaine Fitzgerald DrPH, MIA. "The IM CoIIN is helping to bring national attention to how a unified, collaborative approach can accelerate improvements and help more babies reach their first birthdays and beyond."

Learn more about the IM CoIIN at


NICHQ is an independent, nonprofit organization working for nearly two decades to improve children’s health. We help organizations and professionals who share this mission make breakthrough improvements so children and families live healthier lives. For more information about NICHQ, go to

If you’d like more information about this topic or to schedule an interview, please call or email Cindy Hutter at or 617-391-2757.