Publication Date:

Sep 18, 2018

Key facts about infant, child, and teen mortality

• From 1980 to 2016, infant mortality fell from 1,288 per 100,000 to 583 per 100,000. Similar trends have been observed for child and teen mortality.
• In 2016, the death rate for children under age 1 was more than 11 times higher than the rate for children ages 15 to 19 (583 and 51 per 100,000, respectively). Mortality for children ages 1 to 15 was much lower than the rate for infants.
• Males ages 15 to 19 are more than twice as likely as their female counterparts to die (71 versus 30 deaths per 100,000, in 2016).

Trends in infant, child, and teen mortality

Death rates for children have fallen dramatically since 1980. For example, rates for infants (under 1 year old) fell from 1,288 to 687 per 100,000 from 1980 to 2001 (Estimates for infants are mortality rates rather than death rates. Mortality rates for infants refer to deaths relative to the number of live births in a given year, rather than as a proportion of the total population under age 1). From 2001 to 2005, however, these rates rose, reaching 710 infant deaths per 100,000 in 2005 (Appendix 1). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributed the increase to a rise in the number of babies born at very low birthweight. [1] From 2005 to 2011, infant mortality resumed its previous downward trend, declining to 600 deaths per 100,000 in 2011. Since then, rates have stagnated and were at 583 infant deaths per 100,000 population in 2016 (Appendix 1).

From 1980 to 2016, rates of death for children ages 1 to 4 dropped from 64 to 25 per 100,000, while rates for children ages 5 to 14 dropped from 31 to 13 per 100,000. The steepest decline in both groups occurred from 1980 to 1985. The death rate for teens ages 15 to 19 also declined from 1980 to 2013, from 98 to 45 per 100,000, despite a period of considerably higher rates during the late 1980s. However, since 2013, the death rate for teens ages 15 to 19 has increased, standing at 51 per 100,000 in 2016 (Appendix 1).

Differences by age

Children are much more likely to die during their first year of life than at later ages. For example, in 2016, the death rate for children under age 1 was more than 11 times higher than the rate for children ages 15 to 19, the group with the next-highest mortality (583 and 51 per 100,000, respectively). Among children who survive their first year of life, the likelihood that they will die in childhood decreases with age, then increases as they reach high school age (Appendix 1).

Differences by gender

Death rates for boys are higher than rates for girls in every age group examined here. The largest percentage difference is among teens ages 15 to 19, where males have rates more than twice as high as their female peers, at 71 and 30 deaths per 100,000 in 2016, respectively. Among infants, males had a death rate of 634 per 100,000 in 2016, while females had a rate of 531 per 100,000. Among children ages 1 to 4, the rates for males and females were 28 and 23 per 100,000, respectively; and among children ages 5 to 14, the rates were 15 and 12 per 100,000, respectively (Appendix 1).

Differences by race and Hispanic origin [2]

In 2016, there were consistent patterns evident by race and Hispanic origin (with the exception of American Indians) for children in all age groups: Black children had, by far, the highest rates of death (over twice those of any other race/ethnicity), while Asian/Pacific Islander children had the lowest rates. Rates for Hispanic and non-Hispanic white children fell between, with rates higher for non-Hispanic white children. American Indian children are not compared here because trends were inconsistent across age groups (Appendix 1).

For example, in 2016, death rates were 1,061 per 100,000 for black infants, compared with 486 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic white infants, 470 per 100,000 for Hispanic infants, and 406 per 100,000 for Asian/Pacific Islander infants (Appendix 1).

Rates of death for American Indians show a different pattern. In 2016, the death rate for American Indian infants was the second-lowest among racial/ethnic groups (although similar to all races/ethnicities other than black), at 448 per 100,000. However, American Indians had the second-highest death rate in all other age groups (Appendix 1).

Other estimates

State and local estimates

State-level mortality information, from 1999 to 2016, for all ages: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2018). CDC WONDER [Data tool]. Retrieved from http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html.

State-level estimates are also available through the KIDS COUNT Data Center, located at http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data#USA/2/27/30,33. Estimates for infants are mortality rates rather than death rates. Mortality rates for infants refer to deaths relative to the number of live births in a given year, rather than as a proportion of the total population under age 1.

Infant mortality rates for congressional districts, and child mortality rates for states, are available from the Social Science Research Council’s Measure of America project: www.measureofamerica.org/maps/.

International estimates

Estimates for infant and neonatal mortality and mortality for children under age 5 are available from UNICEF Data: Monitoring the situation of children and women. https://data.unicef.org/.

Data and appendices

Data sources

Data for 1999–2016: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2018). CDC WONDER [Data tool]. Retrieved from http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html.

Data overall and by gender for ages 0 to 14, 1980–1998: Pastor, P. N., Makuc, D. M., Reuben, C., & Xia, H. (2002). Health, United States, 2002 with chartbook on trends in the health of Americans. Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus02.pdf.

Data by race/ethnicity for ages 1 to 14 and overall for ages 15 to 19, 1980–1998: Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. (2002). America’s children: Key national indicators of well-being, 2002 [Tables Health 6.A., Health 6.B., & Health 7]. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www.childstats.gov/pdf/ac2002/ac_02.pdf.

Raw data source

Mortality Data, National Vital Statistics System.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/deaths.htm.

Appendices

Appendix 1. Infant, Child, and Teen Death Rates (per 100,000 population): 1980–2016

Background

Definition

Death rates are defined as deaths per 100,000 persons of that age.
These estimates are based on death certificate data collected by law on every death in the United States, and compiled through the National Vital Statistics System.

Citation

Child Trends. (2018). Infant, Child, and Teen Mortality. Bethesda, MD: Author. Retrieved from https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/infant-child-and-teen-mortality

Endnotes

[1] MacDorman, M. F., Martin, J. A., Mathews, T. J., et al. (2005). Explaining the 2001–02 infant mortality increase: Data from the linked birth/infant death data set. National Vital Statistics Reports, 53(12). Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr53/nvsr53_12.pdf.
[2] Hispanic children may be of any race. Estimates for black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander children include Hispanic children in this report.