Arizona’s infant mortality rate increased by 11% last year

Nov 26, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: 7:01 pm

(Pexels photo)...

(Pexels photo)

(Pexels photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s infant mortality rate increased by 11% compared to the previous year. That pushed the state’s infant mortality rate above the national average.

The rate of infant mortality in the state is now 6 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 5.6 deaths per 1,000 births nationally.

The leading causes of overall childhood mortality were prematurity, congenital anomalies, motor vehicle crashes, suffocation and firearm injuries. Deaths of children caused by neglect and abuse had also increased by 12% since 2022.

The latest annual child fatality report, released Nov. 15 by the Arizona Department of Health Services, examined the deaths of all 875 children ages 17 and younger who died in Arizona last year.

For infants 0 to 27 days old, the leading cause of death was prematurity, for infants 28 days old to 1 year, it was suffocation. The leading cause for children 1 to 4 was drowning, for children 5 to 14 it was motor vehicle crashes and for children 15 to 17 it was firearm injuries. The number of children who died was an 1.4% increase from the 863 children who died in 2021. Twenty-seven of the deaths last year involved children from out of state.

The report found Black and American Indian infants have had consistently higher rates of infant mortality since 2013. For example, while Black children are only 6% of the child population, 27% of all drowning deaths in 2022 were Black children. In addition, only 5% of the child population is American Indian, but 14% of all motor vehicle crash deaths were American Indian children.

In total, Black infants had a mortality rate of 12.2 deaths per every 1,000 live births last year, and American Indian and Alaska Native infants had a rate of 9.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. In comparison, the infant mortality rates for Hispanic and White infants were 5.7 and 4.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Local review teams determined that 390 child deaths were preventable (45% of all deaths), and motor vehicle crashes were the number one cause. Eighty-one children died in motor vehicle crashes last year, which was an 11% increase over 2021. Sixty-one children died due to suffocation.

It was determined 455 child deaths were probably not preventable (52%), and teams could not determine the preventability in 30 (3%) of the deaths.

Low birthweight (64%) followed by poverty (57%) were the main leading risk factors of infant deaths among infants living in Arizona’s urban counties. Among infants living in
Arizona’s rural counties, poverty (66%) was the number one risk factor for death followed by low birthweight (53%). Poverty was found to be a factor in 59% of all deaths of infants under 1 year.

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Arizona’s infant mortality rate increased by 11% last year