Feto-infant mortality

Infant mortality decreases further

Infant mortality decreases further

In 2021, 936 babies were stillborn, or died within a year after the birth. In 2000, this figure was still 1,048 babies, a decrease of 11%. This is what emerged from the new results of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, on feto-infant mortality. Compared to more than 20 years ago, the number of stillbirths increased by 22%, while the number of babies under one year old who died decreased by 39%.

In 2021, 597 babies were stillborn. That number has increased since 2000, when 488 babies were born lifeless. The number of babies under one year old who died has decreased over 20 years, from 560 in 2000 to 339 in 2021.

Infant mortality

The infant mortality rate amounts to 2.9 per mille in 2021 compared to 3.2‰ in 2020 and 4.8‰ in 2000.

In the Brussels-Capital Region, 42 children under one year old died (2.7‰), in the Flemish Region 192 children (2.9‰) and in the Walloon Region 105 children (2.9‰).

Moreover, infant mortality is highly concentrated in the first days of life. The number of deaths within the first seven days after birth was 184, or 54.3% of all infants who died. 94 children (27.7%) died less than one day after birth. The average age was 37 days.


In 2021, 597 children were stillborn. That is 103 more than in 2020, when there was a sharp drop compared to the previous year. This cannot be fully explained by the higher number of births in 2021. The stillbirth rate was 4.3‰ in 2020, compared to 5.0‰ in 2021.

The number of stillbirths increased in both Wallonia (+34 deaths, or +20.9%) and Flanders (+67 deaths, or +28.0%). In the Brussels-Capital Region, this number is rather stable compared to the previous year (+2 deaths, or +2.2%).

Taking into account the number of births, the stillbirth rate remains the highest in the Brussels-Capital Region (5.9 stillbirths per 1,000 births), followed by Wallonia (5.3‰) and Flanders (4.6‰). At national level, the stillbirth rate was 5.0‰.


The infant mortality rate is the ratio between the number of deaths of children under one year old during one year and the number of live births of that same year (in per mille).

The stillbirth rate is the ratio between the number of stillbirths during one year and the total of births (including stillbirths) of that same year (in per mille).

Stillborn babies are the children dead at birth whose birth weight was equal or above 500 grams or, if the birth weight is unknown, with a gestational age of at least 22 weeks. Stillborn babies whose birth weight and gestational age are unknown are also taken into account.

Age of death BELGIUM
Boys Girls Total
Total 195 144 339
Less than 1 day 56 38 94
1 day 12 16 28
2 days 13 10 23
3 days 7 10 17
4 days 5 2 7
5 days 4 3 7
6 days 5 3 8
7 to 27 days 37 24 61
28 to 364 days 56 38 94
Average age (in days) 37,0 37,3 37,1
Source: Statbel (Directorate-General Statistics- Statistics Belgium)

Purpose and brief description

The feto-infant mortality statistics are compiled on the basis of the declaration form of the death of a child under one year of age or of a stillborn child. Since 2010, the National Register has also been used to more accurately determine the relevant official life events and to check the main information. These statistics break down deaths into those before the age of one year old and infants who were stillborn, per gender, by administrative units of the country, by the main characteristics of the mother (age, civil status, state of union, level of education, professional status, nationality) and by certain characteristics of the delivery and of the newborns (location, way of giving birth, twin birth, weight, duration of the pregnancy, congenital defect). They also produce various indicators of feto-infant mortality and a breakdown of feto-infant deaths according to the age of death.

Data collection method

The feto-infant mortality statistics are compiled on the basis of two sources: the National Register of Natural Persons (NRPP) and the statistical declaration forms for a child under one year old or stillborn (Model IIID). These forms are an important source on infant mortality and provide a lot of information, especially health data. They also provide information about the circumstances of birth and about the parents of the deceased children. They are the only source of information on stillbirths or late fetal deaths. The information provided by the NR is less extensive, concerns only infant mortality, but is available more quickly; it contains the death of all children residing in Belgium (and therefore registered in the NR), regardless of whether the death took place in Belgium or abroad. Until 2009, these two sources were consolidated in relation to each other, but in the sense that the declaration forms served as a reference, with the NR being used mainly to provide the data that were missing or not requested on the declaration forms. Therefore, only the deaths (that took place in Belgium and were therefore) reported to the Belgian Registry Office were taken into account when compiling the infant mortality statistics, i.e. those for which the stated place of residence was a Belgian municipality. Since 2010, the statistics have been produced with the NR as reference. Henceforth, only the death of a child included in the NR will be taken into account. By using the NR, the death of a child abroad can be included in the statistics. It also makes it possible to acknowledge the death of children registered in the waiting register for refugees and asylum seekers.


All feto-infant deaths



Release calendar

Results available 1 year after the reference period


Deceased infant: death before the first birthday of a live-born child.

Stillborn child: child who, at the time of birth, does not show any sign of life (such as breathing, heartbeat, pulsating of the umbilical cord, effective contraction of a muscle) and weighs at least 500 grams or, if the weight is unknown, had a gestational age of at least 22 weeks. Below this limit, we are talking about a premature fetal death that is not officially declared.

Twin birth: Total number of births, including stillbirths, due to pregnancy

Place of the child: Place of the child in the totality of living births to the mother

Duration of the pregnancy: Duration of the pregnancy (in weeks) at the time of birth

Way of giving birth: Type of assistance during birth

Congenital defects: Presence of one or more congenital defects

Weight: Weight (in grams) of the child at birth

Apgar after 1 minute: Apgar score after 1 minute

Apgar after 5 minutes: Apgar score after 5 minutes.

Region: the child’s region of legal residence. In the case of a stillbirth: the mother’s region of habitual residence at the time of birth.