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Infant Mortality Rate Falls, But Big Racial Gap Persists

Newborn baby in incubator
sukanya sitthikongsak/shutterstock.com
Newborn baby in incubator

Ohio has ranked near the bottom of all the states when it comes to the number of babies who die in their first year of life. The state’s infant mortality rate is dropping, but there’s still a big racial gap.

Ohio Department of Health medical director Mark Hurst said in the state's latest report on infant mortality, the number in 2018 dropped 4 percent from the year before.

"This decrease was due to a substantial drop in black infant mortality rate for the first time in five years," said Hurst.

But black infants are still up to three times as likely to die as white infants. Hurst said that shows that while the numbers are improving, there's still a lot of work to do.

Hurst said fewer babies died from being born too early, but "prematurity-related conditions remain the leading cause of infant death in Ohio, comprising almost one-third of deaths.”

Of the other main causes of death, one in five infants had fatal birth defects, 10 percent died from external injuries and 8 percent from sudden infant death syndrome.

Two-thirds of all infant deaths were in the state’s nine most populous counties.

Communities have launched programs to tackle infant mortality, including First Year Cleveland, Cradle Cincinnati and CelebrateOne in Franklin County.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.
Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.