Infant mortality rate sees first year-to-year increase in 2 decades


For the first time since 2001 to 2002, a year-to-year increase of the infant mortality rate was observed in the United States from 2021 to 2022. The provisional 20,538 infant deaths reported in 2022 were a 3% increase compared to 2021.

Infant mortality rate sees first year-to-year increase in 2 decades | Image Credit: © dizain - © dizain -

Infant mortality rate sees first year-to-year increase in 2 decades | Image Credit: © dizain - © dizain -

Article highlights

  • Infant mortality in the U.S. increased by 3% from 2021 to 2022, the first rise in 2 decades.
  • Factors contributing to the increase include maternal complications and newborn bacterial sepsis.
  • Preterm and early preterm infant mortality rates also showed a concerning upward trend.
  • Racial disparities existed
  • Mortality rates increased for infants of women aged 25 to 29, and more significantly for male infants.
  • The data provides essential insights for healthcare planning and policymaking efforts.

From 2021 to 2022, the infant mortality rate in the United States increased by 3%, from an estimated 19,928 birth and infant deaths in 2021 to 20,538 in 2022, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the data provided in Vital Statistics Rapid Release, the 2021 to 2022 increase in mortality rate was the first year-to-year increase in the United States since 2001 to 2002. From 2002 to 2021, the infant mortality rate declined 22%.

In 2022, the provisional infant mortality rate was 5.60 infant deaths per 1000 live births, while the provisional neonatal morality rate—the rate of infant deaths at less than 28 days—was 3.58. This figure is also 3% higher than the rate of 3.49 documented in 2021. The postneonatal mortality rate was 4% higher in 2022 compared to 2021 (1.95 vs 2.02, respectively).

Of the 10 leading causes of death, the infant mortality rate increased for maternal complications, going from 30.4 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2021 to 33.0 in 2022, as did bacterial sepsis of newborn (15.3 to 17.4). Decreased rates for disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight, complications of placenta, cord and membranes, diseases of the circulatory system, and neonatal hemorrhage were observed but not statistically significant.

Among all preterm infants (less than 37 weeks’ gestation), increased mortality rates were observed from 2021 to 2022, escalating from 33.59 deaths per 1000 live births to 34.69 in 2022. Early preterm infant (less than 34 weeks’ gestation) mortality also increased, going from a rate of 103.08 in 2021 to 107.61 in 2022.

The mortality rate for infants of American Indian and Alaska Native and White women (7.46 to 9.06 for American Indian and Alaska Native; 4.36 to 4.52 for White, respectively). Mortality rate increases for infants of Black (10.55 to 10.86) Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (7.76 to 8.50), and Hispanic (4.79 to 4.88) women were not statistically significant, nor was the decrease for infants of Asian (3.69 to 3.50) women.

For women aged 25 to 29 years, the infant mortality rate increased from 5.15 infant deaths per 1000 live births to 5.37. Rates did not increase significantly for infants born to females younger than age 20.

Increased rates of mortality for male infants were documented, going from 5.83 deaths per 1000 live births in 2021 to 6.06 in 2022. The increase in mortality rate for females (5.02 to 5.12) was not significant.

According to the report, the data presented, “provides more timely information than reports based on final linked birth/infant death file data and provides detail by maternal and infant characteristics, such as maternal race and Hispanic origin and gestational age, which are unavailable in provisional mortality data releases.”


Ely DM, Driscoll AK. Infant mortality in the United States: provisional data from the 2022 period linked birth/infant death file. Vital Statistics Rapid Release. November 1, 2023. Accessed November 2, 2023.

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