Infant mortality rate
The number of children dying under a year of age divided by the number of live births that year. The infant mortality rate is also called the infant death rate.

The infant mortality rate is an important measure of the well-being of infants, children, and pregnant women because it is associated with a variety of factors, such as maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and public health practices.

A poor diet inhibits development at critical stages in an infant's life, sometimes causing irreversible effects. This can be the case when a mother stops breastfeeding her child too soon. Calories, protein, calcium, iron, and zinc are especially crucial for developing infants.

High infant mortality rates are often associated with poverty and poor access to health care. Some international issues include extreme imbalances in the food–population ratio in different regions of a country, rapid depletion of natural resources, cultural attitudes towards certain foods, and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).


40.85 deaths/1,000 live births


43.85 deaths/1,000 live births


37.67 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Although the infant mortality rate is universally accepted as an indicator of health status, international comparisons are problematic. Many underdeveloped countries do not have functional vital registration systems and infant mortality rates have to be estimated indirectly or through samples. In developed countries, comparisons of infant mortality rates are complicated by differences in medical practices and reporting requirements. These problems have raised questions about the validity of ranking infant mortality rates on an international scale.

The causes of infant mortality are “strongly correlated to those structural factors, like economic development, general living conditions, social wellbeing, and the quality of the environment, that affect the health of entire populations,” according to a 2003 article in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.1 The 2005 United Nations’ Human Development Report states: “No indicator captures the divergence in human development opportunity more powerfully than child mortality.”

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