In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Infant Mortality

  • Introduction
  • General Overview
  • Journals
  • Definitions
  • Global Burden
  • Causes of Infant Mortality
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Parental Education
  • Gender Inequality and Deficient Autonomy
  • Social Inequity
  • Poverty
  • Climate Change and Environmental Health
  • Policy and Healthy Systems
  • Evidence-Based Interventions
  • Antenatal Care
  • Interventions in Newborn and Infants
  • Infant and Young Child feeding (IYCF)
  • Immunization
  • Global Strategies and Goals

Public Health Infant Mortality
Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Amira Khan, Omar Irfan
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 August 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0206


A child younger than one year of age (i.e., birth to twelve months) is termed an infant. Nearly 5.2 million children less than five died in 2019, with close to 75 percent dying in the first year. The infant mortality rate (IMR) is the probability of dying between birth and exactly one year of age expressed per one thousand live births and remains a key indicator to track child health and survival. Globally, infant deaths have markedly decreased during the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) period and beyond. The IMR is closely linked to the neonatal period as the greatest risk of mortality in the first year is during the first twenty-eight days of life. Out of the 3.9 million infants who died in 2019, nearly 2.4 million (61.5 percent) died in the first month. Globally, the leading causes of neonatal mortality are complications from preterm birth, intrapartum-related neonatal events, and neonatal infections. Preterm birth complications, the leading cause of under-five and infant deaths, account for nearly 35 percent of all neonatal deaths. Addressing causes of neonatal mortality is critical in reducing global infant mortality and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.2. With the COVID-19 pandemic and its predicted long-term effects on maternal and child health, health systems, and food security this challenge is all the greater.

General Overview

Comprehensive resources on infant and child mortality are readily available on websites of academic institutions, foundations, and international organizations. Websites of United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME), UNICEF, and World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Health Observatory provide updated information on infant mortality including statistics and figures based on global, regional, and national data. Our World in Data, Gapminder, Countdown to 2030 and the Global Burden of Disease Study websites give infant and child mortality data using effective graphics and data visualization tools as well as information on drivers of mortality. Causes of infant mortality and key interventions to address them are highlighted in the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites. The Healthy Newborn Network website focuses on statistics and causes of neonatal mortality.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Gives up-to-date information about infant mortality in the United States, causes, guidelines on managing infant diseases, and measures to reduce infant deaths.

  • Countdown to 2030.

    An updated source on coverage data of evidence-based interventions to lower maternal, newborn, and child mortality. Identifies research priorities, policy, and practice to address child mortality and enhance maternal health with focus on eighty-one priority middle- and low-income countries.

  • Gapminder.

    A foundation that aims to generate and present data on global health and economic themes to enhance knowledge and stimulate policy change. Data is demonstrated in an innovative manner with dynamic visualization of trends and burdens, such as infant mortality over time.

  • Global Burden of Disease Study.

    Aims to collect and synthesize data on burden of mortality, disease, injuries, and risk factors in 195 countries from 1990 to present day. Valuable resource of data on child and infant mortality and morbidity at the global and national levels, which is updated as more evidence becomes available.

  • Healthy Newborn Network.

    A platform that brings together partners who are working toward reducing stillbirths and newborn deaths and disease. The website is a rich resource of data, updated evidence, and publications and advocacy material related to neonatal health.

  • Our World in Data.

    An initiative of researchers at the University of Oxford, this online platform presents key global data and statistics, namely on health, economics, and environment in novel visualizations and charts making it more understandable for the audience. Their SDG-tracker tool highlights the data tracking the SDG indicators. A great resource for anyone looking to get a snapshot of child health and mortality.


    Comprehensive resource on all global, regional, and national level neonatal, child and adolescent health data. Multiple publications focusing on maternal and child morbidity and mortality, with updated data maps and visuals.

  • United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME).

    Led by UNICEF, the collaboration includes WHO, the World Bank, and the United Nations Population Division, and presents updated child mortality data at country, regional, and global level. The annual publication Levels and Trends in Child Mortality is a valuable resource on mortality data of neonates, children, and adolescents.

  • World Health Organization.

    A rich resource on all global health-related topics including updated COVID-19 information and guidelines. The Global Health Observatory houses a variety of global health-related data including infant mortality statistics.

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