Infant Mortality Rates and Vaccines

How can the Unites States have such high infant mortality rates if we vaccinate so many of our kids?

Many countries with similar immunization schedules have lower infant mortality rates than the United States.
Many countries with similar immunization schedules have lower infant mortality rates than the United States.

That’s like asking why you didn’t harvest any apples when you planted so many orange trees…

Infant Mortality Rates and Vaccines

Infant mortality rates are not really linked to vaccine preventable diseases. Instead, the infant mortality rate in the United States is influenced by:

  • birth defects
  • premature births
  • SIDS
  • maternal complications of pregnancy
  • injuries

And the United States has a higher infant mortality rate than some other industrialized countries not because we vaccinate more kids, but rather because we use different methods to calculate the infant mortality rate. Most other countries don’t include extremely premature babies in their infant mortality rates.

Fortunately, infant mortality rates continue to drop and recently reached their lowest level ever.

In 2016, the infant mortality rate in the United States was 5.87 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, just slightly below, but not significantly different than the rate of 5.9 in 2015. It was at 6.14 in 2010 and as high as 6.89 in 2000.

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