Infant mortality

1. Key messages

In 2015, the infant mortality rate was 3.3 per thousand live births; this is close to the average EU-15 rate.
Infant mortality has sharply declined over the last decennia in Belgium. Current rates and trends are similar in the 3 regions.

2. Background

The infant mortality measures the mortality of children below 1 year. It reflects both the consequences of perinatal events and the mortality occurring after the perinatal period, which is often preventable. It is highly correlated to the country's level of development, the quality of medical care, preventive services and health promotion interventions.

Large fluctuations in yearly rates are observed at regional level, due to the small number of infant deaths. Meaningful comparisons of rates and trends by region are therefore best made on smoothed rates. In this report we used a moving average over the last 5 years.

Infant mortality rates are sometimes published earlier by international organisations than at national level, as they only publish the national rates and therefore do not need the regional distribution of births and deaths.

3. Infant mortality rate

In 2015, the infant mortality rate was 3.3 per thousand live births. There are no differences between genders.

After smoothing, the 2015 infant mortality rates were quite similar in Flanders and Wallonia (around 3.5‰), and slightly lower in Brussels (even after smoothing); this should be confirmed on a longer period since the numbers in Brussels are very small.

At country level, the infant mortality decreased by almost 40% between 1998 and 2015 (respective rates were 5.3‰ and 3.3‰). A strong decline was observed in all regions, but seemed to be slightly slower in Flanders.

Between 2002 and 2013, infant mortality rates used to be slightly lower in Wallonia than in Flanders, afterwards they become similar. In Brussels, the rate used to be higher than in the other regions until 2009, then declined more sharply.

  • Raw
  • Smoothed

Raw infant mortality rate (‰) by region, 1998-2015
Source: Statistics Belgium, 1998-2015 [1]

Smoothed infant mortality rate (‰) (5-years moving average) by region, 2002-2015
Source: Own calculation from Statistics Belgium data, 2002-2015 [1]

International comparison

In 2016, the infant mortality rate in Belgium was at the average EU-15 rate (3.2).

Infant mortality rate by country of birth, Europe, 2016
Source: OECD Health Data, 2016 [2]

4. Read more

View the metadata for this indicator


The EU-15 corresponds to all countries that belonged to the European Union between 1995 and 2004: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. We compare the Belgian health status to that of the EU-15 because these countries have similar socioeconomic conditions.
Infant mortality rate
The infant mortality rate is the number of deaths of children under one year of age per 1000 live births in the same year.


  1. Statistics Belgium, 1998-2015.
  2. OECD Health Data, 2016.