Infant mortality is a significant public health concern in California and throughout the country. The leading causes of infant death vary by region and demographic, but several causes are commonly cited as major contributors to infant mortality worldwide.
Prematurity and low birth weight
Premature birth and low birth weight are major risk factors for infant death. Babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy or weighing less than 2.5 pounds are at a higher risk of death from complications such as respiratory distress and brain hemorrhage.
Congenital anomalies, or birth defects, are a leading cause of infant death. These can include heart defects, neural tube defects and chromosomal abnormalities.
Pneumonia is a serious lung infection that can be fatal in infants. It is caused by a variety of pathogens, including bacteria and viruses.
Neonatal sepsis is a serious infection that can occur in the first 28 days of life. It is caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream and can lead to septic shock and organ failure.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS is the sudden, unexpected death of an infant under the age of 1 that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation.
Congenital heart defects
Congenital heart disease is a birth defect that affects the structure of the heart and can lead to serious health problems and death. Some congenital heart defects include an interrupted aortic arch, aortic stenosis and hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
Injuries, such as suffocation, drowning, strangulation and other birth injuries, can also cause death in children.
Maternal health plays a significant role in infant survival. Pregnant women who are malnourished, have chronic health conditions or lack access to prenatal care are at a higher risk of having a premature birth or a baby with a low birth weight.
Preventing infant death
It’s important to note that many of these causes are interrelated and many can be prevented through interventions such as maternal and child health services, proper nutrition and access to adequate health care. Making infant health their top priority should be every parent’s goal.