Best Practices

Infant Mortality

Infant mortality refers to the death of an infant before his or her first birthday.  Infant mortality rates are often used as indicators of the health and well-being of a nation or state.


Over the past 10 years, Colorado's infant mortality rate has been close to the Healthy People 2020 goal of 6.0 deaths per 1,000 births.  In 2011, there were 362 deaths out of 65,052 births for a rate of 5.6; the U.S. rate was 6.11. Racial disparity and associated socioeconomic inequality have been identified in the literature as root causes of infant mortality in the United States2.  In Colorado, infants of color, with the exception of Asian American/Pacific Islander infants, have higher infant mortality rates than White non-Hispanic infants.  Infants of Colorado mothers with less than a high school education have higher infant mortality rates than infants of mothers with college degrees.


Infant mortality is divided into neonatal and postneonatal time frames with different causes associated with each period.  Neonatal deaths occur before 28 days of life, while postneonatal deaths occur between 28 and 365 days.  Serious congenital anomalies (birth defects), prematurity (birth before 37 completed weeks of gestation) and maternal complications of pregnancy are important contributors to neonatal death.  SUID and violent death due to suffocation or homicide are contributors to postneonatal death.


Background Documents


Evidence-Based Strategies

The drive to reduce SIDS deaths with the Back to Sleep campaign is one example of a national campaign begun in 19943 that reduced SIDS deaths by half in Colorado within six years.  Colorado now ranks first among all states for the percentage of infants put to sleep on their back, with 84 percent put to bed this way in 20104.


Related Colorado Programs


Related Topics





  1. Colorado Vital Records, Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment.
  2. Singh GK, Yu SM. Infant mortality in the United States: trends, differentials, and projections, 1950 through 2010 Am J Public Health. 1995; 85(7): 957-964
  3. SIDS Rate and Back Sleeping (1988-2006), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health,  Accessed 12-10-12
  4. D'Angelo D. Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS): using data to reduce infant deaths.  Infant mortality in the US: where we stand. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Accessed 12-6-12.