Infant Mortality Rate

The infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths (during the first twelve months of life) per 1,000 live births. Before birth, a fetus faces major health risks from undernutrition during pregnancy, particularly from inadequate, absent, or delayed prenatal care. A mother's nutritional deficiencies may result in a premature birth, which substantially increases the likelihood of infant death.

A poor diet inhibits development at critical stages in an infant's life, sometimes causing irreversible effects. This can be the case when a mother stops breastfeeding her child too soon. Calories, protein, calcium, iron, and zinc are especially crucial for developing infants.

High infant mortality rates are often associated with poverty and poor access to health care. Some international issues include extreme imbalances in the food-population ratio in different regions of a country, rapid depletion of natural resources, cultural attitudes towards certain foods, and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). see also Maternal Mortality Rate; Pregnancy.

Kim Schenck undernutrition: food intake too low to maintain adequate energy expenditure without weight loss nutritional deficiency: lack of adequate nutrients in the diet diet: the total daily food intake, or the types of foods eaten calorie: unit of food energy protein: complex molecule composed of amino acids that performs vital functions in the cell; necessary part of the diet calcium: mineral essential for bones and teeth iron: nutrient needed for red blood cell formation zinc: mineral necessary for many enzyme processes


Wardlaw, Gordon; Hampl, Jeffrey; and DiSilvestro, Robert (2004). Perspectives in Nutrition. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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