Infant Mortality Rate

Infant mortality rate refers to the number of infants who die in the first year of life per 1,000 births13. It is also an internationally recognized health indicator as it is often used as a measure of a country’s health or development14. Canada’s infant mortality rate is higher than many industrialized nations including Japan, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia and Switzerland15.

Figure 14: Infant Mortality Rate in Alberta and Canada (1979 - 2003)

Figure 14 indicates that the Canadian infant mortality rate has been declining steadily over the last three decades but as with many other industrialized countries it is levelling off, perhaps due to increasing number of women deferring child birth and rise in multiple births linked with fertility treatment. The Canadian First Nations infant mortality rate has improved drastically since 1979. The data for infant mortality rate for First Nations in Alberta are more limited, covering only a few years and showing significant variability. It is much higher than the other infant mortality rates.

13The Well-Being of Canada’s Young Children, Government of Canada Report 2008

14Ibid.

15Closing the gap in a generation: Health inequity through action on the social determinants of health, Commission on Social Determinants of Health, World Health Organization, 2008