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Infant and Child Mortality - Number of deaths (age birth to 19) in Pennsylvania

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Why This Indicator Matters

Infant mortality describes the number of deaths of children under 1 year of age, while child mortality describes the number of deaths of children and adolescents between ages 1 and 19. The infant and child mortality rate signifies the total number of children dying from all causes, but there are significant differences to note between the two indicators. For children older than 1 years old, accidents (unintentional injuries), cancer, intentional self-harm (suicide), and assault (homicide) are among the most common causes of death.[1] Infant mortality, conversely, has clear racial disparities in its prevalence and can be viewed as an important summary reflecting the social, political, and health care climate in a geographic area.[2] The most common causes of infant mortality include birth defects, preterm birth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), injuries, and other maternal pregnancy complications.[3] The non-Hispanic Black population not only has significantly higher rates of infant mortality than the non-Hispanic white population, but higher rates of low birth weight, SIDS, and inadequate prenatal care as well.[4] This is because social determinants of health, such as experiences of racial discrimination, low income and education levels, poor residential environments, lack of medical insurance, and low-quality health care options play a major role in many health disparities.[5] Although rates of infant and child mortality have been steadily decreasing across the country over time, the United States still has the highest rates and spend the most on health care expenditures that any other high-income country.[6]  This suggests that health disparities in the United States likely have more to do with socioeconomic inequalities combined with systemic failures than an overall lack of funding or resources.

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Child Health. National Center for Health Statistics.

[2] March of Dimes. (2020). Mortality and Morbidity. PeriStats.

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Infant Mortality. Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

[4] Office of Minority Health. (2022). Infant Mortality and African Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[5] Jang, C. J., & Lee, H. C. (2022). A Review of Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality in the U.S. Children (Basel, Switzerland), 9(2), 257.

[6] Petrullo, J. (2023). U.S. Has Highest Infant, Maternal Mortality Rates Despite the Most Health Care Spending. American Journal of Managed Care.

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Definition and Source



Infant mortality includes the number of deaths of children under 1 year of age.

Child mortality includes the number of deaths from all causes, children ages 1 to 19.

Data Source

Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Health Statistics and Research. Pennsylvania Vital Statistics annual report series. The Pennsylvania Department of Health specifically disclaims responsibility for any analyses, interpretations, or conclusions.

Last Updated

May 2024