Infant death is a tragic and heartbreaking reality that affects families in Idaho and around the world. Understanding the leading causes of infant death can help to prevent it and save lives. Here are 10 leading causes of infant death.
1. Premature birth
Premature birth is the leading cause of infant death, accounting for about one-third of all infant deaths. Premature babies are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy and are at a higher risk of health complications and death.
2. Congenital defects
Congenital defects, or birth defects, are structural or functional problems that occur in the baby before birth. These can include heart defects, neural tube defects and chromosomal abnormalities.
3. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant under the age of 1. The cause of SIDS is not known, but it is believed to be related to a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.
4. Respiratory distress syndrome
Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) is a condition that occurs when a baby’s lungs are not fully developed, and they have trouble breathing. It is most common in premature babies.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause difficulty breathing, fever and chest pain. It is a leading cause of infant death, particularly in developing countries.
Sepsis is a severe infection that can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. It can occur in newborns who are born prematurely or with low birth weight.
7. Congenital infection
Congenital infections occur when a baby is infected with a virus or bacteria before birth. These can include infections such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), rubella and syphilis.
Injuries such as accidents, suffocation, shaken baby syndrome and birth injuries can result in infant death.
Malnutrition occurs when a baby does not receive enough nutrients and can be a leading cause of infant death in developing countries. Babies whose mothers do not have access to prenatal vitamins or health care during their pregnancies are more likely to be undernourished.
10. Neonatal encephalopathy
Neonatal encephalopathy is a brain disorder that can occur in newborns that results from a lack of oxygen during birth. It can cause seizures, developmental delays and death.
Preventing infant death
It is important to note that many of these causes of infant death are preventable. Proper prenatal care and taking precautions during and after delivery can help expecting parents and healthcare providers minimize the possibility that any of these issues will affect babies.