Infant Mortality

Infant mortality is the death of a live-born baby before her or his first birthday.  The infant mortality rate is defined as the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births. This rate is often used as an indicator of the level of health in a country.

Infant Mortality Defined

Infant mortality is measured by taking the number of live-born babies per thousand who die before their first birthday, producing a number called the infant mortality rate.  But infant mortality is much more than a number.  It is a personal and family tragedy that profoundly affects all those involved. Infant mortality is a public health crisis both locally and nationally, and we must address it.

Check out the Ohio Department of Health Infant Mortality webpage for more information.

Richland County Facts

  • In 2017, Richland County infant mortality rate was 6.7 deaths for every 1,000 live births.  Note: This rate is based on a small sample size, so it should be interpreted with caution.
  • The seven-year (2011-2017) average infant mortality rate in Richland County is 6.2.  This is lower (better) than the seven-year average for the state of Ohio (7.2).
  • In Ohio in 2017, the mortality rate for black infants was 15.6.  This is nearly three times higher (worse) than the mortality rate for white infants (5.3).

Source:  Ohio Department of Health 2017 Infant Mortality Report

The Nation 

In spite of medical expenditures which per capita exceed that of most nations, the United States is at the bottom of the 28 most-developed nations in terms of infant mortality.  According to a 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. infant mortality rate of 6.1 was higher (worse) than countries including Canada (4.9), the United Kingdom (4.2), and Finland (2.3).

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention National Vital Statistics Report (2014)

Why Babies Die

The main medical reasons for babies dying are prematurity/low birth weight, congenital anomalies (birth defects), and sleep-related deaths. Babies also die of neglect, injuries, and disease. Poor physical/mental health, obesity, tobacco/alcohol/drug use, having pregnancies too close together, and limited breastfeeding among women of reproductive age also contribute significantly to the problem.

How We Compare

Through infant mortality, we can gauge trends in children’s and women’s health and determine the quality and availability of medical care, the effectiveness of public health practices and the overall economic, environmental and social conditions of a community. 


As part of a comprehensive plan called Healthy People 2020, the U.S. (and Ohio) has established the objective of achieving an infant mortality rate of fewer than 6.0 deaths per 1,000 live births by the year 2020.

Latest Infant Mortality Data

This reports shows, in various ways, the latest infant mortality data and includes final 2017 figures.  Some data shows seven-year totals (2011-2017). All data is from the Ohio Department of Health Office of Public Health Statistics and Informatics. 


Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

SIDS is the leading cause of infant death for babies one month to one year of age and the third leading cause of infant mortality in the United States.

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