Health Shift: For the first time in nearly 20 years, the U.S. has experienced an alarming uptick in infant mortality rates, according to the CDC.
A concerning trend has surfaced in American public health as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reconfirmed a trend in the nation’s infant mortality rates after two decades of relative stability.
The increase has not been uniform across all populations. Native American or Alaska Native infants have been particularly affected, with mortality rates jumping from 7.46 deaths per 1,000 live births to 9.06 in 2022. Infants born to Black mothers continue to experience the highest mortality rate, at 10.86 per 1,000 births — nearly twice the national average.
States like Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, and Texas saw notable increases, with Georgia reporting a significant rise of 116 infant deaths in 2022 compared to the previous year, based on provisional data from the National Vital Statistics System.
A Reflective Measure:
Infant mortality is often a mirror of broader societal health issues, with current spikes potentially indicating wider public health challenges. The CDC’s report links the rising mortality rates to factors also driving up maternal mortality, including complications such as high blood pressure and bacterial sepsis.
Voices of Concern:
Ky Lindberg, CEO of the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia, expressed frustration, noting parallels between infant and maternal mortality rates. Meanwhile, American Academy of Pediatrics President Sandy L. Chung labelled the statistics as “disturbing,” highlighting the disparities in access to healthcare and nutrition among impoverished families.
Elizabeth Cherot, CEO and President of March of Dimes shared sentiments of discouragement, pointing out the reversal of a more positive trend in the survival of U.S. infants.
While the CDC report does not pinpoint the reasons behind the uptick, it emphasizes that rising infant mortality rates are a significant indicator of societal well-being. As such, the figures present a call to action for public health officials, policymakers, and communities to address the underlying causes and reverse this concerning trend.