Healthy Beginnings / Reducing Infant Mortality

Reducing Infant Mortality2022-02-01T15:13:35-08:00

California’s infant mortality rate is lower than the nation’s and has reached a record low.1

Infant mortality is an important indicator of the overall health and well-being of the population. The infant mortality rate is regarded as a highly sensitive measure of population health because there is an association between the causes of infant mortality and other factors that influence the status of whole populations such as economic development, general living conditions, social well-being, rates of illness, quality and access to medical care, public health practices, and quality of the environment. The infant mortality rate is measured as the number of infant deaths before one year of age for every 1,000 live births in that population. About two-thirds of infant deaths occur before a baby is one month old, and the remaining third between two and 12 months of life.2

Infant mortality is linked to women’s health status with healthier moms having healthier babies. Considering nearly half of pregnancies are unplanned, it is critical for women to get healthy now. Women’s health is multifaceted and includes good nutrition, reducing or quitting smoking, and avoiding excess alcohol use. Optimal health also includes managing stress, strong social support, education, economic stability, and being able to live in healthy neighborhoods for physical activity and community safety. Of course, being able to access high quality health care also matters.

Indicator Progress

In 2010 (baseline year), there were 4.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. The most recent rate available is 4.2 (2017). We hope to reach a target of 4.0 or lower by 2022.

More Data about Infant Mortality



Current Rate




Indicator Highlights

Data Snapshot: Trends & Disparities

Infant Mortality – Deaths per 1,000 Live Births, by Over Time

Infant Mortality – Deaths per 1,000 Live Births, by Demographic Category

Infant Mortality – Deaths per 1,000 Live Births, by County


Indicator: Infant Mortality, Deaths per 1,000 Live Births

Description: Infant Mortality is defined as the number of deaths in infants under one year of age per 1,000 live births. Infant mortality is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a community, because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also impact the mortality rate of infants. Although California’s infant mortality rate is better than the national average, there are significant disparities, with African American babies dying at more than twice the rate of other groups. Data are from the Birth Cohort Files. The infant mortality indicator computed from the birth cohort file comprises birth certificate information on all births that occur in a calendar year (denominator) plus death certificate information linked to the birth certificate for those infants who were born in that year but subsequently died within 12 months of birth (numerator).

Data Limitations: The California Infant Mortality Rate cannot be compared to the national infant mortality rate published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The national data source uses the 2010 period linked file, which consists of all infant deaths occurring in 2010 that have been linked to their corresponding birth certificates, whether the birth occurred in 2009 or in 2010. The California Infant Mortality Rate is based on the birth cohort linked file, which contains a numerator that consists of all infant deaths to babies born in a single year whether the death occurred in that year or the next.

Indicator Source: California Department of Public Health, Center for Health Statistics and Informatics

Indicator Calculation Methodology: Single year shown to provide state-level data and county totals for the most recent year. Numerator: Infants deaths (under age 1 year). Denominator: Live births occurring to California state residents. Multiple years aggregated to allow for stratifications at the county level.

Data Collection Methodology: The Birth Cohort Files contain data for all live births that occurred in a calendar year, death information for those infants who were born in that year but subsequently died within 12 months of birth, and all fetal deaths that also occurred during that calendar year.

Program URL Link:

1. March of Dimes. (n.d.). Stress and Pregnancy. Retrieved December 14, 2015, from

2. California Department of Public Health, Birth and Death Statistical Master Files, 2012

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, 29 August). Preconception Health and Health Care. Retrieved December 14, 2015, from

4. March of Dimes. (n.d.). Toward Improving the Outcome of Pregnancy III. Retrieved December 14, 2015, from

5. RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America. (2009). Beyond Health Care. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

6. 2011 California Birth Cohort File

7. 2009- 2011 California Birth Cohort Files

8. 2008-2011 California Birth Cohort Files

Stories & Solutions

Increasing Breastfeeding Duration

If 90% of US families could comply with current medical guidelines to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, the US could avoid about $18.5 billion per year in increased health care costs (2014 dollars). 1 The multiple health benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for both the infant and mother are well [...]


The Text4baby app provides free text messages to help keep you and your baby healthy. 

San Diego County Health Wheels

Health Wheel education tools present topics such as weight, exercise and healthy eating, stress management, healthy relationships, medical and dental check-ups, communicating with your health care provider, smoking, and alcohol and drug use.

The California Newborn Screening Program

The California Newborn Screening (NBS) Program is the largest newborn screening program in the world, screening over 99% of babies every year in California for 80 different genetic and congenital disorders.

The California Prenatal Screening Program Story

The California Prenatal Screening Program helps to optimize pregnancy outcomes by offering accurate screening for birth defects and genetic conditions along with timely and effective follow-up services, including genetic counseling, for all pregnant women in California. 

Getting the Right Level of Care

Ensuring mom and baby have access to hospitals with the right level of quality health care is an important and necessary health systems solution to reduce infant mortality.

California Home Visiting Program (CHVP)

Home visiting programs pair at-risk and expecting parents with public health nurses or para-professionals who offer an intensive, positive parenting program to help vulnerable families independently raise their children.

Share Your Story

Want to engage in moving the dial on Healthy Beginnings? Share your impact story!

Submit Your Story

Go to Top