California’s infant mortality rate (IMR) has reached a record low, announced Dr. Ron Chapman, state health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). In 2012, California’s IMR was 4.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, lower than the rate of 4.8 in 2011.
Infant mortality is defined as the number of deaths in infants less than one year of age. In 2012, there were 503,788 births in California and 2,247 infants died that year. The leading cause of infant death in 2012 was congenital malformations, followed by short gestation and low birth weight.
"Optimal infant health outcomes are influenced by a woman’s health even before she becomes pregnant, including avoidance of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking folic acid supplements,” said Chapman. “Early entry into prenatal care, genetic testing to identify health risks at birth, breastfeeding, childhood immunizations, and continuing proper nutrition through a baby’s developing years all contribute to improving infant health outcomes.”
While the African American Infant Mortality Rate decreased from 10.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 9.8 in 2012, racial/ethnic disparities in infant mortality persist. African American infant deaths occurred 2.6 times more frequently than Caucasian infant deaths in 2012. The Caucasian Infant Mortality Rate decreased from 4.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 3.8 in 2012. The Hispanic Infant Mortality Rate also decreased from 4.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 4.7 in 2012.
According to the most recent national statistics, California accounts for approximately one in every eight births nationally. In 2010, California had the seventh lowest Infant Mortality Rate among all 50 states and the lowest Infant Mortality Rate among the ten states with the largest number of births. The most recent (2011) national Infant Mortality Rate is 6.05 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
Many CDPH programs and initiatives target reduction of infant mortality. For more information on these programs, as well as resources for pregnant women or women who are considering pregnancy, please visit: