Ohio's Infant Mortality Rate Shows Slight Decline, But Remains High

Newborn infant // Bonnie Gruenberg
Newborn infant // Bonnie Gruenberg

By Anne Glausser

The state’s infant mortality rate declined slightly in 2013, according to new figures from the Ohio Department of Health. The state still ranks among the worst in the country in terms of infant deaths.

Infant mortality is considered a fundamental marker of a community’s overall health and wellbeing.  So Ohio Department of Health’s Medical Director Dr. Mary DiOrio takes these numbers seriously. "We were hopeful that the numbers would be a lot better than they are.  We have put a lot more effort in recent years into improving infant mortality so that we hope the 2014 numbers will reflect that much better.  It is concerning that our infant mortality rate is still what it is," she said.

Overall the state’s rate declined from 7.6 infant deaths per 1000 live births in 2012 to 7.4 in 2013.

Racial disparities persist in this new batch of data, with black babies continuing to die at a higher rate than white babies.

The three leading causes of infant deaths before age one in Ohio are pre-term births, sleep-related deaths and birth defects.

DiOrio says the state is targeting high risk metropolitan areas such as Cleveland and Akron with special programs that increase access to healthcare, tobacco cessation, and other activities.  They’re also continuing to invest in their Safe Sleep campaign which reminds caregivers to put infants on their backs alone in a crib.

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