In the weeks before your child is born, it's natural to start feeling anxious and thinking about potential risks and complications. You don't want to stress yourself out unnecessarily, but you also want to know the odds of something bad happening. Understanding the risks can help you plan ahead and take steps to ensure the birth go as well as possible.
If your mind wanders to the worst case scenario, you may begin wondering what the infant mortality rate is in the United States. It has fallen historically, but where does it sit right now?
The 2017 rate
The most recent numbers come from 2017, as reported by the Central Intelligence Agency. The mortality rate is the number of children out of every 1,000 births who pass away. This calculation removes incidents such as early miscarriages and simply looks at how many children live through childbirth itself.
Per the CIA, the estimate for 2017 is 5.80 deaths for every 1,000 live births.
Where does the U.S. rank?
Unless you study this extensively, you likely have little idea of what 5.80 means in global terms. Is that a good rate or should it be better? How much risk do you really face? Where does the United States rank?
That number puts the United States at 170 out of 225 countries, with number one being the worst infant mortality ranking and 225 the best. The best ranking, number one, belongs to Monaco, which has a fatality rate of just 1.80. That is slightly better than Japan, which has a rate of 2.00, and Iceland, which has a 2.10 mortality ranking.
The United States is exactly the same as Serbia, at 5.80. Slightly worse is Gibraltar, at 5.90, and the Cayman Islands, which also come in at 5.90. These are followed by Qatar, at 6.20, and then by Puerto Rico, at 6.40.
Just better than the United States are Bosnia and Herzegovina, at 5.50, and the Faroe Islands, at 5.40.
If you're wondering about countries that are in many ways similar to the U.S., the infant mortality rate in the United Kingdom and Australia is 4.30, while the rate in Canada is 4.50. The rate in the European Union as a whole is 4.00, and the same goes for Denmark and the Isle of Man.
What causes infant death?
Medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of infant mortality in the United States. Mistakes made by doctors can turn fatal when you least expect it, turning what should be a joyous occasion into something tragic. Other risk factors for infant mortality include birth defects, low birth weight, premature birth, maternal complications and injuries such as suffocation. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list injuries as the fifth leading cause.
If your child does pass away or suffers serious injuries during birth, be sure you know all of the legal options available to you.