A recent report has cast a spotlight on a troubling shift in the United States: after two decades of declining infant mortality rates, the nation is experiencing a rise in the number of infants dying within their first year. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has provided provisional data indicating a jump from 5.44 to 5.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2022. This reversal of progress is seen as a reflection of the overall health of the population, with the health of infants closely linked to that of their mothers.
The increase spans multiple demographic groups, with significant rises noted among babies born to Native American and non-Hispanic white women. Concurrently, the maternal mortality rate in the US has escalated, particularly among Black and Hispanic women, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also highlights the correlation between infant mortality and socioeconomic factors, such as the doubling of the child poverty rate and the reduction of Medicaid coverage post-pandemic.
Healthcare experts emphasize the need for investment in family support systems to mitigate infant mortality. The report’s findings are a call to action for healthcare providers and officials to prioritize the health of women and children. With the US already lagging behind other high-income countries in healthcare outcomes despite higher spending, the recent statistics on infant mortality are a stark reminder of the challenges that lie ahead.
The data, which will be finalized in a forthcoming report, serve as an early warning of a growing trend that demands immediate attention. As the nation grapples with healthcare disparities and policy changes, the focus on reducing infant mortality remains a critical measure of societal health and well-being.