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. From public radio member station WYSO in Yellow Springs, Jerry Kenney reports.
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.
“During that same period of time, the infant mortality rates across the nation has dropped by 11%," Jones says. "So the disparity between Ohio’s infant mortality rate and the rest of the nation continues to grow.”
And, 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.