Ohio Has the 11th Highest Rate of Infant Mortality

New statistics from the Ohio Department of Health show that the number of babies per thousand who die before their first birthday is among the highest in the nation…with no real improvement over the last decade.

Infant mortality is often considered a key indicator of the overall health of a region.

Ohio’s current rate is 7.7, higher than the U.S. rate of 6.14.

Dr. Arthur James is co-director of the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality.

JAMES: So the first things that those numbers should shout out to us is that across the state, Ohio isn’t doing well relative to the nation and we need to do better.

The latest figures also show that the death rate for African-American babies was 15.5 while the rate was 6.4 for white infants. The disparity was worse in Cuyahoga County, where black babies died at more than three times the rate of whites.

Premature birth is a major cause of infant mortality. Experts also point to birth defects and conditions like sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

James says these numbers can be reduced, by identifying and treating women at high risk of premature delivery, increasing education on safe sleeping conditions for babies, and targeting health services to women and infants.

He says there’s a need for regional problem-solving:

JAMES: People in their neighborhoods and communities need to sit down and start talking about this stuff—try to figure out what’s going on.

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