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Child Mortality
Child Mortality in United States
United States

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Child Mortality in depth:

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General Population

Child Mortality by State

Number of deaths per 100,000 children ages 1-19

Child Mortality Trends

Number of deaths per 100,000 children ages 1-19

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Child Mortality

About Child Mortality

US Value: 25.9

Top State(s): Massachusetts: 14.3

Bottom State(s): Alaska: 45.8

Definition: Number of deaths per 100,000 children ages 1-19

Data Source and Years: CDC WONDER, Multiple Cause of Death Files, 2018-2020

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of CDC WONDER, Multiple Cause of Death Files, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

Premature death among youth, especially from preventable causes, is an enormous loss of potential life. Children and adolescents under age 18 represent 22.2% of the United States population. 

Accidents (unintentional injuries) are the leading cause of death in children ages 1-4, 5-9 and 10-14. In 2020, there were 21,430 deaths among children and adolescents ages 1-19 in the U.S. Firearm-related injuries — mainly homicides — surpassed motor vehicle accidents to become the leading cause of death among children and adolescents, with nearly a 30% increase from 2019. Drug overdose and poisoning deaths increased by nearly 84% from 2019 becoming the third-leading cause in 2020. Cancer is the fourth-leading cause of death among children ages 0-14 overall and the leading cause of death from disease. 

Most homicides of young children are committed by family members, while older children are more likely to be killed by acquaintances. Homicides and assault-related injuries among youth and young adults ages 10-24 are estimated to cost more than $100 billion annually in medical costs, loss of productivity and value of life.

Suicide is also a serious concern. It is the second-leading cause of death among children ages 10-14 and third among those ages 15-19. Recently there has been an increase in deaths by suicide among children, teenagers and young adults.

The rate of child mortality is higher among:

  • Youth and young adults ages 15-19, who have the highest mortality rate, followed by those ages 1-4 and 5-14.
  • Boys compared with girls.
  • Non-Hispanic Black and American Indian/Alaska Native youth, who have higher mortality rates compared with Asian and multiracial youth.

To combat injury as the number one cause of child mortality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a National Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention to raise awareness about child injury, highlight prevention solutions and mobilize action to reduce this under-recognized public health problem. Examples of solutions include incorporating child injury risk assessments into home visiting programs, a free course on child vehicular safety and the promotion of safe infant sleeping.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force has recommended universal school-based programs to reduce violence. The CDC also provides a listing of effective and promising youth violence prevention strategies.

Healthy People 2030 has an objective to decrease child mortality among children and adolescents ages 1-19 years.

Curtin, Sally C., and Melonie Heron. “Death Rates Due to Suicide and Homicide Among Persons Aged 10-24: United States, 2000-2017.” NCHS Data Brief No. 352. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, October 2019.

Goldstick, Jason E., Rebecca M. Cunningham, and Patrick M. Carter. “Current Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in the United States.” New England Journal of Medicine 386, no. 20 (May 19, 2022): 1955–56.

“National Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention: An Agenda to Prevent Injuries and Promote the Safety of Children and Adolescents in the United States.” Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2012.

Task Force on Community Preventive Services. “A Recommendation to Reduce Rates of Violence Among School-Aged Children and Youth by Means of Universal School-Based Violence Prevention Programs.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 33, no. 2, Supplement (August 1, 2007): S112–13.

Xu, Jiaquan, Sherry L. Murphy, Kenneth D. Kochanek, and Elizabeth Arias. “Deaths: Final Data for 2019.” National Vital Statistics Reports 70, no. 8 (July 26, 2021): 87.

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