In 2009, there were 1,300 infant deaths (deaths of children less than one year of age) registered in Australia (730 male and 530 female). This was a 2.9% increase compared with the number registered in 2008 (1,200).
Between 1989 and 1999, the total number of infant deaths decreased by 3.4% per year on average. Since then, total numbers of infant deaths each year have remained relatively stable in number, fluctuating between 1,200 and 1,400 deaths per year.
Over the past twenty years, the number of male infant deaths has been consistently greater than the number of female infant deaths. In 2009, there were 730 male deaths, 37% more than the number of female deaths (530).
Infant mortality rates
The infant mortality rate (IMR) is calculated by dividing the number of infant deaths by the number of live births over a specified period. In 2009, the IMR was 4.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. This was slightly higher than the rate in 2008 (4.1) and almost half that recorded in 1989 (8.0).
Over the past 100 years, Australia's infant mortality has declined significantly. For the period 1901 to 1910, around one in 12 infants did not survive to their first birthday (an IMR of 81.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 1905). By 2009, around one in 250 infants did not survive their first year of life.
2.9 Infant mortality rates
States and territories
(a) - 1909 to 2009
Western Australia recorded the lowest IMR in 2009 (3.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births), followed by the Australian Capital Territory (3.5) and Tasmania (3.6). The Northern Territory's IMR of 7.1 was the highest of the states and territories, followed by Queensland (5.4). Some states and territories have experienced volatility in IMRs from year to year, due in part to the decline in the number of infant deaths, resulting in rates based on small numbers.
Infant age at death
In 2009, 42% of all infant deaths occurred within the first day of life, with a further 29% occurring within the first four weeks of life. Until around 1998, numbers of infant deaths at all ages were decreasing. Since then, the numbers appear to have stabilised with year to year volatility.
2.10 Infant deaths, Age at death - 1989 to 2009