Infant mortality


Each year, about 350 babies die in Minnesota

Infant mortality is the death of a live-born infant within the first year of life. Birth defects (also called congenital anomalies) are the leading cause of infant death in Minnesota overall.

The types of infant mortality shown in the charts below include neonatal mortality and postneonatal mortality:

  • Neonatal mortality: death of a live-born infant within the first 27 days of life. The leading causes of neonatal death are disorders related to premature birth and low birth weight. 
  • Postneonatal mortality: death of a live-born infant from the infant's 28th day of life to one year of age. These deaths reflect events in infancy and are more likely to reflect social or environmental factors, such as exposure to secondhand smoke or unsafe sleep. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is a type of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), is the leading cause of postneonatal mortality.

Infant mortality in Minnesota

 
 
Infant mortality, or death within the first year of life, is shown here by combining infant deaths in the first 27 days of life (neonatal mortality) with infant deaths from the 28th day of life but within the first year (postneonatal mortality). Source: Minnesota Center for Health Statistics. National data is not yet available for 2016.

Minnesota infant mortality rates are lower than the national average. There has been a general downward trend in the overall infant mortality rate in Minnesota, but progress has stalled in recent years. There are striking disparities in these outcomes for certain populations in Minnesota.


Infant mortality in Minnesota by mother's race/ethnicity

 
 
Categories are non-Hispanic ethnicity unless noted. Data are for 2012-2016. Source: Minnesota Center for Health Statistics. 

In Minnesota, babies born to American Indian mothers, black or African American mothers, and mothers identifying as "other" race have higher rates of infant mortality than other racial/ethnic groups. Additional work is needed to eliminate these disparities and to ensure that all babies in our state have the opportunity for a healthy life. 

According to the Infant Mortality Reduction Plan for Minnesota (PDF), the leading cause of infant mortality differs according to the mother’s race. For example, congenital anomalies (also called birth defects) are the leading cause of infant deaths for babies born to Asian, Hispanic, and white mothers, while prematurity is the leading cause of infant deaths among babies born to black or African American mothers. Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), which includes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other types of sleep-related deaths, is the leading cause of infant death among babies born to American Indian mothers.


Infant mortality in Minnesota by mother's age

 
 
Data are for 2012-2016. Source: Minnesota Center for Health Statistics.

Compared to the average for all Minnesota mothers, infant mortality is more common among the youngest mothers (under 20 years old) and the oldest mothers (40 years and older). 


Infant mortality in Minnesota by county

* Rates based on counts less than 20 are suppressed. Data are for 2012-2016. Source: Minnesota Center for Health Statistics. Download these data.
 
* Rates based on counts of 20 or under are suppressed. Data are for 2012-2016. Source: Minnesota Center for Health Statistics.
Download these data.

There are some differences in the infant mortality rate across the state. The statewide average is 5.0 deaths per 1,000 live births within the first year of life.

Beltrami, Cook, Mahnomen, and Ramsey Counties have a significantly higher infant mortality rate than the statewide average. Olmsted and Scott Counties have a significantly lower rate. 


Take steps to protect your baby's health

There are things you can do to have a healthy pregnancy such as:

  • quit smoking
  • stop illegal drug and alcohol abuse
  • eat well
  • reduce stress
  • start prenatal care early in pregnancy and follow your healthcare provider's recommended prenatal visit schedule
  • manage chronic illness and other medical problems
  • take folic acid to reduce the risk of a birth defect called neural tube defects
  • breastfeed your newborn
  • use effective contraception to delay or avoid unintended pregnancies

Parents and caregivers should always place sleeping infants on their backs. Research has found that infants who sleep on their stomachs or sides are at higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Babies should also sleep in a crib instead of their parents' bed.

Infants who sleep or nap in unsafe environments or positions are at increased risk of dying suddenly and unexpectedly during sleep.  For example, sleep environments that contain loose beddings, bumper pads, stuffed animals, or pillows are at risk of suffocation and entrapment.  Babies who sleep on their stomachs are at increased risk of aspirating or choking.

MDH provides Safe to Sleep Materials, like Infant Safe Sleep: Know the A-B-Cs:

  • Alone: Infants should always sleep or nap alone.
  • Back: Always put a baby on their back to sleep or nap.
  • Crib: Babies should always sleep or nap in their own safety-approved crib or play yard. Keep loose bedding, bumper pads, blankets, toys or pillow out of cribs to prevent sleep-related tragedies.

Learn more about safe sleep, sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) which includes SIDS, and preventing premature births from the MDH Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative, and the National Institute of Health’s resource on Ways to Reduce the Risk of SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Infant Death.