SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

Program Expansion

Infant Death

Infant Dealth

Advances in medical technologies are generally credited for the dramatic declines in overall infant mortality in the United States since the 1960s. During this period, medical interventions capable of allowing the survival of premature infants and babies born weighing as little as 500 grams have become almost commonplace. Similarly, rapid advances in technologies used to monitor pregnancies have improved outcomes for at-risk pregnancies and emergency deliveries.

However, progress toward improving the infant mortality rate began to slow significantly in the 1980s. Between 1980 and 1990, U.S. infant mortality rates dropped 3.4 points, which was less than half the rate of decline of the previous ten years. Between 1990 and 2000 the rate fell only 2.3 points.9 During the past five years, the infant mortality rate has nearly stagnated, declining from 7.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1996 to 6.8 in 2001.10 Preliminary data for 2002 indicates that the infant mortality rate has increased to a 7.0 rate.11 Of the more than 4 million births in 2001, the National Center for Health Statistics reported 18,777 neonatal deaths, or deaths that occurred before the 28th day of life.

Despite progress in reducing infant deaths, the United States’ infant mortality rate still ranks poorly among the world’s industrialized nations at 27th.12 The United States may have reached the point in which the ability to ensure the survival of the next generation depends less on medical technology and more on our ability to educate women of childbearing age, expectant mothers and families.