Infant mortality is the death of child under one year of age. Most instances of infant mortality and childhood mortality, the death of children up to age five, occur in developing nations. The most common cause of infant mortality is dehydration from diarrhea, an easily preventable situation that is most often caused by poor sanitation.
There are, of course, numerous reasons for infant mortality, even in developed nations such as the United States or Europe. Birth defects, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and accidents still occur. However, ninety-nine percent of all infant mortality occurs in the developing world. Most of the infant mortality in such regions occurs because of infection, premature birth, and complications during delivery. Low birth weight also contributes significantly to infant mortality in developing nations. Children born with lower weights are more than forty times more likely to die within the first year.
Infant mortality rates can be seen as measures of a nation’s health and social conditions. Infant mortality rates are lowest in northern and Western Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, and the United States. However, infant mortality rates are highest in nations such as Afghanistan, Angola, Chad and Somalia, with many other African nations displaying significantly high levels of infant mortality. Providing access to clean drinking water would reduce infant mortality in such regions.