Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Preemies Raise U.S. Infant Mortality Rate

High Percentage of Premature Births Contributing to Nation's High Infant Mortality Rate, Report Shows
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 3, 2009 -- The high percentage of preterm babies is the main cause of the high infant mortality rate in the U.S., the CDC says in a new report.

The U.S. “does a good job of saving babies when they are born preterm,” Marian F. MacDorman, PhD, of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, tells WebMD. “The problem we have is prevention, preventing that preterm birth, and that’s where we are in trouble, I think.”

Based on 2005 data, one in eight births in the U.S. was preterm, compared with one in 18 in Ireland and Finland, says the report in the CDC’s NCHS Data Brief No. 23.

In the U.S., 6.9 babies died out of every 1,000 live births, placing America near the bottom in a comparison of selected countries.

Infant Mortality Rate per 1,000 Live Births

Here are infant mortality rankings, showing the U.S. ranking far below countries in Europe and the Far East.

Singapore 2.1

Sweden 2.4

Hong Kong 2.4

Japan 2.8

Finland 3.0

Norway 3.1

Czech Republic 3.4

Portugal 3.5

France 3.6

Belgium 3.7

Greece 3.8

Germany 3.9

Ireland 4.0

Spain 4.1

Switzerland 4.2

Denmark 4.4

Israel 4.6

Italy 4.7

Netherlands 4.9

England and Wales 5.0

Australia 5.0

New Zealand 5.1

Scotland 5.2

Canada 5.4

Hungary 6.2

Cuba 6.2

Northern Ireland 6.3

Poland 6.4

United States 6.9

Slovakia 7.2

Preterm Births Driving Infant Mortality Rate

MacDorman tells WebMD “the climate of medical management has changed over the past 15 to 20 years” in the U.S. “Back in the day, if a woman had high blood pressure, they might put her in the hospital and wait until the baby is more mature. Now the docs seem more likely to want to deliver the baby early.”

She says infant mortality in the U.S. is a “major public health problem, and it’s not improving.”

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Woman looking at pregnancy test
calendar and baby buggy
dark chocolate squares