Ohio's Infant Mortality Rate Down, But Racial Disparities Remain High

Close up of part of a baby's face with clasped hands laying on a blanket. [Tatyana Vyc / Shutterstock]
A new report from the Ohio Department of Health finds a decrease in infant mortality statewide. [Tatyana Vyc / Shutterstock]

Ohio’s number of infant mortality deaths has decreased in the last year, with 982 deaths in 2017, compared to 1024 in 2016, according to a new report out of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).

It’s the second-lowest number recorded since ODH started tracking infant mortality in 1939, but the racial disparity remains wide, with black infants dying at three times the rate of white infants.

Amy Neumann with First Year Cleveland, an infant mortality initiative in Cuyahoga County, says between 2015 and 2017 the local infant mortality rate mirrored the state’s.

"The African-American rate in those two years decreased 12 percent, and the white rate decreased 58 percent," Neumann said. "So the overall impact has been good so far, but we’re very concerned there’s still a racial disparity and it continues to grow, primarily because the white rate has been reduced so significantly so fast."

First Year Cleveland aims to address the disparities through various programs, including racial bias training among hospital employees.

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