Behind international rankings of infant mortality: how the United States compares with Europe

NCHS Data Brief. 2009 Nov;(23):1-8.


Infant mortality is an important indicator of the health of a nation, and the recent stagnation (since 2000) in the U.S. infant mortality rate has generated concern among researchers and policy makers. The percentage of preterm births in the United States has risen 36% since 1984 (1). In this report we compare infant mortality rates between the United States and Europe. We also compare two factors that determine the infant mortality rate-gestational age-specific infant mortality rates and the percentage of preterm births. U.S. data are from the Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set (2,3), and European data for 2004 are from the recently published European Perinatal Health Report (4). We also examine requirements for reporting a live birth among countries to assess the possible effect of reporting differences on infant mortality data.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality / trends*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Premature Birth / mortality
  • United States / epidemiology