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Roundtable on Infant Mortality Rates to be Held

Members of the Ohio Senate Committee on Medicaid, Health, and Human Services and other health professionals from around the state will be in Cincinnati Thursday to discuss how to improve Ohio’s infant mortality rate. 

Ohio now ranks 48th among states in infant mortality, averaging 7.7 deaths per 1,000 births from 2006 though 2010. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, that rate has remained fairly steady since 1997, but  State Senator Shannon Jones, who chairs the Medicaid, Health, and Human Services Committee says what’s happening in Ohio in no way resembles the progress that’s being made nationally.

According to Jones, “During that same period of time, the infant mortality rates across the nation has dropped by 11%. So the disparity between Ohio’s infant mortality rate and the rest of the nation continues to grow.”

Around the Miami Valley in 2010, Clark County’s infant mortality rate was a staggering 11.9 deaths out of 1680 live births, while in Greene County there were 7 deaths out of 1720 live births and in Montgomery County 7.4 deaths out of 6753 births.

The Ohio Department of Health says Infant mortality rates go up dramatically for black populations in Ohio, to 15.5 deaths per 1,000 births – that’s more than double the rate for white infants.

Jones says some of that disparity lies with access to medical care, “But also the kind of care that individuals are receiving. So, we need to understand that.  I think our focus has to be here in the state on looking at evidenced-based practices that’s going to allow us to tackle this challenge.”

That challenge will be the focus of a series of discussions, including Thursday’s meeting in Cincinnati.  In July the Ohio Department of Health announced that they will work with Dayton and eight other Ohio communities to reduce infant deaths.

* An earlier version of this story that aired on WYSO incorrectly expressed the infant mortality rates for Clark, Greene, and Montgomery Counties in Ohio as percentages.  Comprehensive data on infant deaths and infant mortality rates by county is available at the Ohio Department of Health website.