America observed the largest increase in infant mortality in the last 20 years during 2022.
Nearly 6 out of every 1,000 infants born in the United States last year died before their first birthday, according to a new report published on Nov. 1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data indicates that infant mortality increased by 3% between 2021 and 2022.
“Mortality rates increased significantly among infants of American Indian and Alaska Native non-Hispanic (7.46 to 9.06) and White non-Hispanic (4.36 to 4.52) women,” stated the report from the National Vital Statics System. “From 2021 to 2022, infant mortality rates increased significantly for infants of women ages 25–29, from 5.15 to 5.37.”
The report continued, “Mortality rates increased significantly for total preterm (less than 37 weeks of gestation) and early preterm (less than 34 weeks of gestation) infants.”
Male infants, in particular, had higher rates of death than in years before – with an increase from 5.83 to 6.06 for every 1,000 live births. There was a slight but not statically significant increase in female infant mortality from 5.02 to 5.12.
Two of the 10 leading causes of death among infants saw increases as well – maternal complications (33 out of every 100,000 live births) and bacterial sepsis (17.4 out of every 100,000 live births).
Four states, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri and Texas, recorded an increase in infant mortality between 2021 and 2022. Just Nevada recorded a significant decrease during the last year.
“It’s definitely concerning, given that it’s going in the opposite direction from what it has been,” said Marie Thoma, a University of Maryland researcher who studies maternal and infant mortality, per Fox 5.
The report comes over 18 months after the Journal of the American Medical Association warned that the pediatric death rate had jumped between 2019 and 2021 by 20%. Similar to the data from the CDC, the study found that childhood deaths were higher among males.
“Pediatric death rates are rising mostly because of injuries, as opposed to diseases such as cancer and COVID-19,” reported The Hill. “Boys are dying at nearly twice the rate of girls. Black and Hispanic boys are dying in homicides at much higher rates than non-Hispanic whites. But researchers found the death rate rising for children of both genders and multiple races and across several causational categories, from car accidents to drug overdose. … Pandemic-related deaths accounted for only a small fraction of the increase in child mortality in 2020 and 2021.”
Between 2020 and 2021, the number of boys between the ages of 1 and 19 that died increased from 36.22 to 38.65 for every 10,000 male children. For girls, childhood death climbed from 18.69 to 20.81.
America’s infant mortality rate is still significantly below the highest rates recorded in the world. In 2020, Sierra Leone reported 80 deaths for every 1,000 live births, the Central African Republic reported almost 76, Somalia and Nigeria reported nearly 73, and Lesotho reported almost 70. The ten countries with the lowest infant mortality rates — Iceland, San Marino, Estonia, Slovenia, Norway, Japan, Singapore, Finland, Montenegro, and Sweden — all have reported two or fewer deaths for every 1,000 live births.