Health >> Infant Mortality

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Infant Mortality:  Summary & Data Highlights

Infant mortality continues to decline in King County’s high-poverty neighborhoods.

If a baby dies before his or her first birthday, that death is counted as an infant death. The number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births is known as the infant mortality rate, and is widely regarded as an indicator of the overall health of a community. 

For trend graphs, 3-year rolling averages were used to smooth out the large effects of year-to-year fluctuations.  King County’s 2010 infant mortality rate was 4.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.

 

In 2010, 103 King County infants died before reaching their first birthday. The number of infant deaths can vary widely from year to year – in 2009, it was 78; and in 2008, it was 121.  To improve the likelihood of detecting statistically significant differences, 5 years of data (2006-2010) were combined when comparing demographic groups.

 

Neighborhood poverty matters.

  • Infant death rates vary by neighborhood poverty. Infants in high- and medium-poverty neighborhoods were more likely to die in the 1styear of life than infants in low-poverty neighborhoods.
    • High-poverty neighborhoods: 5.2 deaths/1,000 live births
    • Medium-poverty neighborhoods: 4.4 deaths/1,000 live births
    • Low-poverty neighborhoods: 3.1 deaths/1,000 live births
  • After 1990, infant mortality rates declined in high-, medium-, and low-poverty neighborhoods (data not shown). Since 2001, however, rates have declined significantly only in high-poverty neighborhoods. 
Race/ethnicity matters. 
  • Asians (3.3 deaths per 1,000 live births) and Whites (3.6 per 1,000) have lower infant mortality rates than:
    • American Indians/Alaska Natives (14.3 per 1,000)
    • People of more than one race (8.4 per 1,000)
    • Blacks (6.6 per 1,000)
    • Hispanics (4.4 per 1,000) have lower infant mortality rates than American Indians/Alaska Natives and people of more than one race.

Place matters: The highest infant mortality rates cluster in South Region.

  • South Region infants (4.9 deaths/1,000 live births) were more likely than East Region infants (2.8 deaths/1,000 live births) to die in the first year of life.
  • Since 2001, infant mortality did not decline significantly in any region of King County.

Infant mortality in King County was stable from 2001 to 2010.

  • In 1990-1992, the county’s infant mortality rate (6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births) was higher than the 2010 rate of 4.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • The overall infant mortality rate did not change significantly between 2001 and 2010.
  • While King County overall has achieved the “Healthy People 2020” objective of 6 or fewer infant deaths per 1,000 live births, infant mortality rates for some racial and geographic groups in the county exceed the Healthy People 2020 objective.

Mother’s age matters.

  • Infant mortality is lowest for babies whose mothers are between the ages of 25 and 39 (3.5 deaths per 1,000 live births).
    • Mothers younger than 18: 9.1 deaths per 1,000 live births
    • Mothers age 18-24: 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births
    • Mothers age 40+: 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births
    • Nevertheless, differences persist by mother’s age.