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Infant Mortality

November 23, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Jill Barnas

Executive Summary 

Infant mortality is the death of a child within the first year of life. Infant mortality is a nationwide public health issue and a key indicator of population health and quality of health care. The infant mortality rate in Missouri is higher than the national average rate and is the 17th highest infant mortality rate in the nation. There are evident disparities in the risk of infant mortality including socioeconomic status, ethnicity and race, and access to maternal care education. Programs and initiatives can reduce the risk of infant mortality when they include interventions that improve health disparities and infant care.


  • Missouri’s infant mortality rate is 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, down from 7.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005.
    • Black Missourians are at two times greater risk for infant mortality than White Missourians.
  • The top five causes of infant mortality include: birth defects; preterm delivery and low birth weight; unintentional injuries; sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); and maternal pregnancy complications.
  • Missouri has participated in numerous programs and initiatives at the local, state, and federal level to reduce infant mortality rates.


  • Infant and maternal mortality are strongly linked; only one recent report has specifically evaluated maternal mortality in Missouri. Therefore, it is challenging to identify failures, problems with quality care, and other social determinants of health without more data.
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