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The fetus and infant may be particularly susceptible to harmful effects of environmental contaminants. Many environmental contaminants may be especially toxic in the womb. Many cross the placenta and make their way into the circulatory system of the developing fetus. Even if a potentially harmful exposure is identified, the health effects on the fetus are often not well understood until years later.

Environmental exposure-related causes of infant and perinatal death are only one factor. Other factors include access to and quality of health care, competency in childcare and understanding injury prevention.

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Infant Mortality

  • What is infant mortality?
    • An infant death is a death occurring to a baby who is less than one year of age. Infant mortality is a measure of infant deaths. The infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths per one thousand live births for a particular time period.

  • What is a live birth?
    • Live birth is the complete birth of a baby that must be breathing or showing other evidence of life, such as a heartbeat.

  • What is the relationship between infant mortality and the environment?
    • The fetus and young child less than one year old (infant) may be particularly susceptible to harmful effects of environmental contaminants. Many environmental contaminants may be especially toxic to babies as they are growing in their mother’s uterus (in utero).

      However, specific health effects are often not well understood for years following the identification of a potentially harmful exposure. For this reason, it is useful for WI EPHT to track indicators of infant health, such as death (mortality). It is important to keep in mind that environmental exposure-related causes of infant mortality are only one piece of a puzzle. Many other factors such as access to and quality of health care, competency in childcare and understanding of injury prevention contribute to infant mortality.

  • What are the causes and risk factors of infant mortality?
    • The leading causes of infant death include congenital abnormalities, pre-term, low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), problems related to complications of pregnancy, and respiratory distress syndrome. Other causes include maternal smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, poor nutrition, stress, insufficient prenatal care, chronic illness or other medical problems.

  • What can healthcare providers do to help reduce infant mortality rates?
    • Health care providers can advise their patients about factors that affect birth outcomes, such as maternal smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, poor nutrition, stress, insufficient prenatal care, chronic illness or other medical problems.

  • What can communities and individuals do to help reduce infant mortality rates?
    • Communities can play an important role in this effort by encouraging pregnant women to seek prenatal care in the first three months of pregnancy. Also, it helps to educate pregnant women and family members on factors that affect infant mortality such as smoking, substance abuse, poor nutrition, lack of prenatal care, medical problems, and chronic illness.

      In addition, educating parents and caregivers about SIDS will help. A sleeping infant should be placed on their backs because babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides are at higher risk for SIDS. A separate sleeping environment, such as a crib in the parents’ bedroom, is sometimes recommended.

Perinatal Mortality

  • What is perinatal mortality?
    • The range of time from conception to birth is called gestation. Perinatal mortality is defined as death after the 28th week of pregnancy and before the 7th day of life.

  • What is the relationship between perinatal mortality and the environment?
    • Many environmental contaminants may be especially toxic in the womb. Many cross the placenta and make their way into the circulatory system of the developing fetus. Even if a potentially harmful exposure is identified, the health effects on the fetus are often not well understood until years later.

      Pesticides have been associated with fetal death and spontaneous fetal losses but more research is needed to determine the degree of association.

      Environmental exposure-related causes of perinatal death are only one factor. Other factors include access to and quality of health care, competency in childcare and understanding injury prevention.

  • What are the causes and risk factors of perinatal mortality?
    • Some factors that may increase the risk for fetal loss include:

      * pre-pregnancy obesity
      * lower socioeconomic status
      * non-Hispanic black race
      * advanced maternal age
      * exposure to pesticides

  • How can perinatal mortality be prevented?
    • Health care providers advise pregnant women that these factors affect the birth outcomes: maternal smoking, illegal drug and alcohol abuse, poor nutrition, stress, insufficient prenatal care, chronic illness, or other medical problems.

Postneonatal Mortality

  • What is postneonatal mortality?
    • A postneonatal mortality is defined as a death between 28 days after birth to one year of life.

  • How is postneonatal mortality related to the environment?
    • Air pollution in the form of particulate matter (PM10) has been associated with an increase in the rate of postneonatal deaths. Postneonatal deaths occur from age 28 days through the first year of life. The major causes of death associated with PM10 exposure were deaths from respiratory causes and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.

      Parents and caregivers should always place sleeping infants on their backs. Research has demonstrated that infants who sleep on their stomachs or sides are at higher risk for SIDS. A sleeping environment separate from the parents’ bed, such as a crib in the parents’ bedroom, is recommended.

Neonatal Mortality

  • What is neonatal mortality?
    • A neonatal mortality is defined as a death that occurs in the first 27 days of life.

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Last Revised: January 28, 2014

Data

Data Query

Infant Mortality Data Query
Perinatal Mortality Data Query
Postneonatal Mortality Data Query
Neonatal Mortality Data Query

Access the infant mortality data in the WI EPHT online database.

The WI EPHT online database has data about other reproductive outcomes. Review the Data Details below to learn about interpreting the data.

 

Data Details

What is the data source?

The website provides data from the statistical resident birth and death files, maintained by the Wisconsin Vital Statistics Records Office, Wisconsin Department of Health Services. This office also provides reproductive outcomes data on the Wisconsin Interactive Statistics on Health.

How does WI EPHT measure reproductive outcomes?

The WI EPHT website includes the following measures:

  • Annual percent of singleton premature babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual count of singleton premature babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual percent of singleton very premature babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual count of singleton very premature babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual percent of low birth weight babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual percent of singleton low birth weight babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual birth rate per 1,000 babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual infant mortality rate per 1,000 babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual perinatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by state
    • Annual perinatal mortality counts by state
    • Multi-year neonatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Multi-year neonatal mortality count of babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual neonatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by state
    • Annual neonatal mortality count of babies by state
    • Multi-year post-neonatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Multi-year post-neonatal mortality count of babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual post-neonatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by state
    • Annual post-neonatal mortality count of babies by state
    • Annual singleton birth count by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual singleton birth rate per 1,000 babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual total birth count by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual total fertility rate by state
    • Annual singleton sex ratio by state

    • Annual percent of low birth weight babies by county
    • Annual percent of singleton low birth weight babies by county
    • Annual percent of singleton premature babies by county
    • Annual count of singleton premature babies by county
    • Annual percent of singleton very premature babies by county
    • Annual count of singleton very premature babies by county
    • Annual birth rate per 1,000 babies by county
    • Annual singleton birth count by county
    • Annual singleton birth rate per 1,000 babies by county
    • Annual total birth count by county
    • Annual total fertility rate by county
    • Multiple years of infant mortality rate per 1,000 babie by county
    • Multiple years of infant mortality count by county
    • Multiple years of perinatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by county
    • Multiple years of perinatal mortality counts by county
    • Multiple years of neonatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by county
    • Multiple years of neonatal mortality counts by county
    • Multiple years of post-neonatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by county
    • Multiple years of post-neonatal mortality counts by county
    • Annual singleton sex ratio by county
  • What are some considerations for interpreting the data?

    While significant effort is made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data, there are limitations that are listed below:

    • There are cooperative exchange procedures in place to help ensure data are included for Wisconsin residents born in other states, but it is possible not all other states have provided complete information at the time this report was created. The numbers are likely quite small, and thus the incompleteness probably has limited impact on the measures provided from the EPHT program.
    • The measures are based on responses recorded on the birth certificate. There is not separate reporting specific to these reproductive outcomes.

    There are many factors that can contribute to a disease and should be considered when interpreting the data. Some of these include:

    • Demographics, e.g., race, gender, age
    • Socioeconomic Status, e.g., income level, education
    • Geographic, e.g., urban vs. rural
    • Changes in the medical field, e.g., diagnosis patterns, reporting requirements
    • Individual behavior, e.g., diet, smoking