The Ohio Health Department (OHD) released numbers this week that shows the infant mortality rate in the state is declining.
In 2018, a total of 938 infants died prior to their first birthday. This number decreased from 2017 where 982 infants passed away before reaching one year of age.
In addition, black baby infant mortality rates went down by 12 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to the OHD press release. But despite this number decrease, the OHD reports black infants are still dying at “more than two-and-a-half times the rate of white infants.”
“While there are indications of promising progress, there is much more that we must do to help more Ohio babies reach their first birthdays, particularly African-American infants given that the black infant mortality rate hasn’t changed significantly since 2009,” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said in a statement.
Ohio’s infant mortality rate, which is determined by infant deaths per 1,000 live births, went from 7.2 percent in 2017 to 6.9 percent in 2018. Even though the infant mortality rate declined two years ago, it was still above America’s national average at 5.9 percent.
The leading deaths of infant mortality in 2018 were premature birth conditions, birth defects, external injury, sudden infant death syndrome and obstetric conditions, according to the OHD press release.
“We can help more Ohio babies reach their first birthdays by addressing infant mortality risk factors like the health of the mother before pregnancy, pre-term birth, access to prenatal care, and safe sleep practices,” said OHD Director Amy Acton.
In an effort to try to improve these numbers, DeWine signed the Governor’s Children’s Initiation to help baby healthcare in Ohio by improving home visiting programs. These programs help pregnant women and their families, especially those at risk, by providing resources and skills to help raise children.
In the 2020-2021 state budget, Ohio committed $70 million over two years for home visiting.
A 2017 study done by Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation showed outcomes improved for parents and children who participated in home visiting program.
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected]