Cuyahoga County Infant Mortality First Quarter Stats Show Racial Gap

In Cuyahoga County, black babies are still more than 3.5 times likely to die than white babies, according to first quarter stats.
In Cuyahoga County, black babies are still more than 3.5 times likely to die than white babies, according to first quarter stats. [Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock]
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Preliminary data of infant mortality rates so far this year shows racial disparities persist in Cuyahoga County.

Numbers from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health show 25 infants died from January through March of this year. Statistician Richard Stacklin said this number is lower than previous first quarter reports.

Nineteen of the 25 deaths were African American babies, while the other six were white. Overall, black babies are still more than 3.5 times likely to die than white babies.

Stacklin said prematurity remains the leading cause of infant mortality in the county. In addition to addressing pre-term births, he said targeting systemic racism is needed in order to lower infant mortality overall.

“My personal opinion is that, yes, I think we need to change the social structures that has created these large inequities,” he said. 

Stacklin also said it’s not yet clear if the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on data collection.

“I tried to take a look about two weeks ago to see if there was an update in infant deaths, and there really hasn’t been in the first quarter," he said. "I think time will tell if numbers will trickle in in the upcoming months.”

He also said the number of births overall so far this year is down, but that’s expected to rise early next year due to the pandemic.

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