Health >> Infant Mortality

Progress in lowering infant mortality rates lags in many communities of color

Infant mortality is the death of an infant before the first birthday. The infant mortality rate (the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births) is widely regarded as an indicator of the overall health of a community. For 2011-2015, King County's infant mortality rate was 4.1 per 1,000 live births.

  • Race and ethnicity: Babies born to American Indian/Alaska Native and Black/African American mothers had infant mortality rates twice the current county average or more (11.2 per 1,000 and 8.2 per 1,000, respectively). Rates this high have not been seen in the county as a whole for at least 26 years--since before 1990--underlining the stubborn disparities that affect these communities. Babies born to Asian mothers had a lower infant mortality rate than King County overall (2.9 per 1,000).

  • Trends: In King County overall, infant mortality has fallen fairly steadily from 2000 to 2015. In 2015, 93 infants died, the second lowest number since at least 1990, even as the number of live births—25,487—was the largest on record (data not shown). The mortality rate for babies born to Asian mothers decreased, but the rates for babies born to White, Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Multiple Race mothers did not significantly decline (data not shown).

  • Region and city/neighborhood: Infant mortality was higher in South Region than in North or East Regions. Federal Way – Dashpoint/Woodmont (8.6 per 1000), SeaTac/Tukwila (7.7 per 1000), and Seattle-Downtown (9.3 per 1000) had higher rates than the county average, Rates this high have not been seen in the county as a whole since before 1990. Redmond had a lower infant mortality rate than King County at 1.5 per 1,000 births.

  • Mother’s age: Babies born to mothers younger than 25 had higher mortality rates than babies born to 25-44 year old mothers.

Notes & Sources:

Source: Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics Linked Birth-Infant Death Statistical File

For more information, see

Numerator: Infants who die before their first birthday

Denominator: All live births

Information on infant deaths presented here is for infants who were residents of King County at the time of death.