About Infant Mortality

Infant mortality is defined as the death of an infant less than one year old. Tennessee Department of Health calculates this metric as the number of deaths per 1,000 live births within one year. The infant mortality rate of the Unites States in 2017 was 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births ranking it 55th in the world for highest infant mortality. Tennessee had a higher infant mortality rate than that of the Unites States averaging 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018. This translated to one infant death every 15 hours in the states- ranking Tennessee 11th in the nation for highest rate of infant mortality. In Tennessee and across the United States, non-Hispanic black infants are at roughly twice the risk of infant mortality than white infants. This has been true for over a century, despite overall reductions in infant mortality of nearly 95% since 1915. 

Over 22,000 infants died in the United States in 2017. Lead drivers of infant death included: birth defects, preterm birth, maternal pregnancy complications, sudden infant death syndrome, and injuries.  Similar issues emerge when looking at the drivers of infant mortality in Tennessee which include birth defects, preterm birth and low birth weight, sleep-related death, and cardiovascular disease.