A report released Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics showed a 3% bump in infant deaths last year.
It’s the first time infant mortality has risen at all in 20 years. Specifically, the number of infant deaths that occurred less than 28 days after birth increased by 3%. Additionally, the number of infant fatalities that occurred from one to 12 months rose by 4%. The report also noted a spike in two of the leading causes of death in children less than 12 months old: maternal complications and bacterial meningitis.
Did other mortality rates increase as well? The overall U.S. death rate dropped by 5% last year. Maternity deaths also decreased. Philadelphia neonatologist Dr. Eric Eichenwald told the Associated Press that the rise in infant deaths could be attributed to loosening COVID-19 restrictions.
He explained that the season for flu and respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, hit extra hard last year following the two years of extreme pandemic precautions. NCHS statistician Danielle Ely told CNN that researchers are waiting for next year’s data to confirm if the spike in death was a fluke or a sign of a serious trend.
This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2023, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.