CDC: Ohio's Infant Mortality Rate Remains One Of The Highest In US

Ohio's infant mortality rate remains one of the highest in the country, despite local efforts to address the issue. (Photo: bogonet / Shutterstock)
Ohio's infant mortality rate remains one of the highest in the country, despite local efforts to address the issue. (Photo: bogonet / Shutterstock)
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Ohio has the eleventh highest rate of babies dying before their first birthday, according to new CDC data released Thursday. The report also shows Ohio had the second highest infant mortality rate in the country for non-Hispanic black women.

In Northeast Ohio, the overall infant mortality rate has slowly declined over the last several years, but the racial gap has widened, with more than 6 non-Hispanic black babies dying to every 1 non-Hispanic white baby in 2017, said Richard Stacklin at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

"Unfortunately, the disparity has hovered between 2-3 and that’s kind of been a thorn in our side in trying to break that down to get the disparity down," said Stacklin. "For 2017 currently, the disparity went up to 6.5 because we had historically low white infant mortality rates for 2017 so far."

The CDC report emphasizes the importance of addressing the racial disparity in Northeast Ohio, said Bernadette Kerrigan of First Year Cleveland, a local initiative that aims to decrease the infant mortality rate.

"The three top reasons that we have a high infant mortality rate particularly among African American moms is structural racism, prematurity, and preventable sleep-related deaths," Kerrigan said. "We have to take a new approach to looking at decreasing African-American infant death."

Kerrigan said one way First Year Cleveland is doing that is by focusing on faith-based initiatives in church communities, and launching new research efforts this month to examine the role of race and stress on black women.

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