International Comparisons of Infant Mortality and Related Factors: United States and Europe, 2010

September 24, 2014

A new NCHS report investigates the reasons for the United States’ high infant mortality rate when compared with European countries. Specifically, the report measures the impact on infant mortality differences of two major factors: the percentage of preterm births and gestational age-specific infant mortality rates.

In 2010, the U.S. infant mortality rate was 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, and the United States ranked 26th in infant mortality among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. After excluding births at less than 24 weeks of gestation to ensure international comparability, the U.S. infant mortality rate was 4.2, still higher than for most European countries and about twice the rates for Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. U.S. infant mortality rates for very preterm infants (24–31 weeks of gestation) compared favorably with most European rates. However, the U.S. mortality rate for infants at 32–36 weeks was second-highest, and the rate for infants at 37 weeks of gestation or more was highest, among the countries studied.

About 39% of the United States’ higher infant mortality rate when compared with that of Sweden was due to a higher percentage of preterm births, while 47% was due to a higher infant mortality rate at 37 weeks of gestation or more. If the United States could reduce these two factors to Sweden’s levels, the U.S. infant mortality rate would fall by 43%, with nearly 7,300 infant deaths averted annually.


Infant mortality – Where does the U.S. stand?

November 5, 2009

In 2005, the latest year that the international ranking is available for, the United States ranked 30th in the world in infant mortality, behind most European countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and Israel.

The United States international ranking in infant mortality fell from 12th in the world in 1960, to 23rd in 1990 to 29th in 2004 and 30th in 2005. After decades of decline, the United States infant mortality rate did not decline significantly from 2000 to 2005.

Infant mortality rates, selected=


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Latest trends in infant mortality available. U.S. ranked 29th in world, down from 23d in 1990

October 15, 2008

The U.S. infant mortality rate was 6.78 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004, the latest year that data are available for all countries.  Infant mortality rates were generally lowest (below 3.5 per 1,000) in selected Scandinavian (Sweden, Norway, Finland) and East Asian (Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore) countries.  Twenty-two countries had infant mortality rates below 5.0 in 2004. 


The findings are published in a new Data Brief “Recent Trends in Infant Mortality in the United States.”  The data come from the Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set and Preliminary Mortality Data File, collected through the National Vital Statistics System. For more information, click here.