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Infant Mortality Forums Take Place in Dayton

Jerry Kenney

Dayton Children’s Hospital and Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County both hosted events Thursday centered around Ohio’s high infant mortality rate.  Ohio has one of the highest rates of infant deaths in the country. Health officials and politicians alike want that to change. 

During a two-hour session at Children’s Hospital, about 40 healthcare professionals and state legislators discussed some of the reasons for high infant deaths in the state. 

Elaine Markland, a nurse at Children’s, reported that the hospital looked at twenty-four infant deaths recorded by their emergency room and found that at least nine of those infants had suffocated.

Markland says the hospital also found that, “seven of the nine had prior contact with Children’s either in our outpatient testing centers, but also in our emergency department, and in other areas.”

Children’s Hospital now sees those cases as missed opportunities to educate parents about keeping their newborns safe while they sleep. So, they have a plan.

Ann Marie Schmersal serves on the Infant Mortality Awareness and Prevention Committee with Markland.  She says the hospital’s new education plan starts close to home.

According to Schmersal, Children’s has about 1800 employees here and about 50 percent are of child bearing age.” 

Credit Jerry Kenney
State Senators Peggy Lehner (left, Center) and Shannon Jones (right) talk with health professionals from Dayton Children's Hospital.

She adds that the hospital is “impacting [its] staff to practice safe sleep in their home but they [will now] all serve as the mentors for their family and friends in the community.”  

State Senator Shannon Jones has spearheaded the infant mortality discussions around the state and says Ohio has lot to be proud of when it comes to its healthcare resources but the number infant deaths have to become a priority.

Jones believes Ohioans “can’t be as proud as we should be of these great research and medical facilities if we aren’t treating our people the way that they should be.”

The Infant Mortality forum will move to its final stop in Cleveland next week.