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