For the first time in over two decades, the United States has experienced a rise in the infant mortality rate.
In 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data that showed the rate of infant mortality had gone up to 5.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, a 3% rise from the 5.44 deaths per 1,000 live births in the prior year.
The report points out that increases in mortality rates were observed for most ethnicities except Asian women. Particularly, mortality rates of White and Native American infants, infant boys, and those born before 37 weeks gestation had noteworthy increases.
During the 2021-2022 period, the infant mortality rate among American Indian and Alaskan Native women rose from 7.46 deaths per 1,000 to 9.06, while the same rate among White women increased from 4.36 to 5.42 per 1,000.
Since 2001-2002, there has been a noticeable increase in the infant mortality rate, growing from 6.8 to 7.0 deaths per 1,000 births. This was the first time the rate had increased significantly.
Four states saw a marked increase in the trend, Georgia, Texas, Iowa, and Missouri being the most prominent.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that during pregnancy, complications and sepsis, a type of bacterial infection, have become some of the main factors contributing to the increased rates of infant mortality.
Reproductive health professionals, hypothesized that lack of health care access may be responsible for the recent rise in infant mortality in America. Furthermore, they suggested that the pandemic may have caused some expectant mothers not to receive the proper medical attention.
According to Arjumand Siddiqi, a professor at the University of Toronto who researches population health, the U.S. is performing poorly when measured against a standard measure of how societies treat their people. She told the Wall Street Journal that, considering the amount of resources and medical technology available, infant mortality should be a rarity in the U.S., yet it is not.
According to specialists, the rise in numbers might be due to higher living expenses and the opioid crisis.