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Massachusetts Department of Public Health seal Massachusetts Environmental Public Health Tracking

Infant mortality occurs when an infant dies in the first year of life. Perinatal mortality is a fetal death of 28 weeks gestation or more an infant death in the first 6 days of life. Neonatal mortality is an infant death which occurs in the first 27 days of life. Postneonatal mortality is a death which occurs at 28 days up to a year of life. Mortality is measured by the mortality rate.

Identifying populations with higher perinatal, neonatal, and postneonatal mortality rates may provide leads on where to look for potential environmental problems. It will also assist in targeting outreach with educational and other interventions and improve the understanding of geographic variation, time trends, and demographic patterns of mortality.

Did You Know?

The United States infant mortality rate ranks 27th in the world (6.15 deaths per 1,000 live births).

Source: CDC, NCHS Data Brief 2013

Risk factors for mortality include:

  • Smoking
  • Substance abuse
  • Poor nutrition
  • Lack of prenatal care
  • Medical problems
  • Chronic illness
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Air pollution (particulate matter)
Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting infant, neonatal, perinatal, and postneonatal mortality rate data, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • Associations between environmental exposures and infant mortality are only one piece of a puzzle that includes many other factors such as access to and quality of health care, competency in childcare, and understanding of injury prevention.
  • It may be reasonable to assume universal reporting of live births and infant deaths in the U.S., however some births/deaths may be excluded because of the difficulty in distinguishing a death shortly after birth as a live birth; a death soon after birth might be reported as a fetal death rather than live birth and infant death.
  • The critical data for the purpose of linking deaths to environmental hazards/exposures are place of residence during pregnancy and the first year of life, which may not be represented by maternal residence at the time of the birth or neonatal residence at death. The mother may have lived far from the place she gave birth during part or all of the pregnancy. It may be less likely that the neonate who died was born and lived far from the place of death.
  • The data presented are based on the location of the residence at the time of birth or death. The place of residence or potential exposure during gestation or at the time of conception when an exposure that may have affected the outcome could have occurred, may be different.

For additional information, please read the FAQ

Available Data on Reproductive Mortality

Use the Explore Maps & Tables link on this page to access the following measures for reproductive mortality in your community. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year. To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual.

  • Average annual number and rate per 1,000 live births of perinatal (≥ 28 weeks gestation plus infants less than 7 days old) mortality by community, county, and statewide over 5 year period
  • Average annual number and rate 1,000 per live births of infant (<1 year of age) deaths by community, county, and statewide over 5 year period
  • Average annual number and rate per 1,000 live births of neonatal (<28 days of age) deaths by community, county, and statewide over 5 year period
  • Average annual number and rate per 1,000 live births of postneonatal (≥ 28 days to <1 year of age) deaths by community, county, and statewide over 5 year period

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