Infant mortality

The infant mortality rate is based on the number of children that die between birth and age one, per 1,000 live births. It is a common measure of population and healthcare quality but is also influenced by social, economic and environmental factors (OECD, 2014).

How does the overall UK infant mortality rate compare to individual UK countries?

The infant mortality rate for the UK and each country in the UK has been steadily decreasing since 1960. The UK rate fell below 10 for the first time in 1984 and has decreased even further, to an all-time low of 3.9 in 2015.

All countries in the UK have followed a similar trend, with Scotland having the lowest rate of 3.2 deaths under one year per 1,000 live births in 2015.

Updated March 2017.

How has the infant mortality rate in UK countries changed in the last 15 years?

Here we look at the UK trend in infant mortality rate since 2000. In general, the rate in the UK and its constituent countries decreased between the year 2000 and 2015

Scotland showed the largest decrease in infant death rate from 5.7 per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 3.2 in 2015. Northern Ireland was the only country to show an increase in death rate, from 5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 5.1 in 2015. Overall the rate in the UK decreased by 1.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, from 5.6 in 2000 to 3.9 in 2015.

Updated March 2017.

How does UK's infant mortality rate compare internationally?

The infant mortality rate has been decreasing in most OECD countries. The UK has a relatively high rate of infant mortality compared to other countries with 3.9 deaths per 1000 live births in 2014. The country with the highest rate each year is the USA while Iceland, Finland and Sweden have the lowest rates.

One of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals was to reduce child mortality by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015. According to this MDG the UK should have reduced the 1990 infant mortality rate of 7.9 to 2.6 by 2015. The most recent data available (2014) suggest that the UK will struggle to meet this target. In 2015 the MDG goals were replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals where maternal and child health remains one of the key goals (Goal 3 "Ensure health lives and promote well-being for all at all ages").

Updated March 2017.

About this data

Notes for OSN data:

United Kingdom -  Infant and neonatal mortality rates for the United Kingdom are calculated by including births in Northern Ireland to non-residents in the denominator. 

Northern Ireland - The infant mortality and neonatal mortality rates for Northern Ireland represent the rate per 1,000 live births including non-Northern Ireland resident births.

For more information, see: ONS, Vital Statistics

For more information about OECD data and indicators, see: OECD.Stat


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