Every year in Franklin County, approximately 150 babies die before reaching the age of one - that’s enough children to fill five kindergarten classes. Ohio is ranked sixth worst in the nation for overall infant mortality.
What is Infant Mortality?
Infant mortality is the death of a live-born infant before their first birthday.
Why is Infant Mortality Important?
Infant mortality represents a long-standing concern of public health. The infant mortality rate is not only seen as a measure of the risk of infant death but it is used more broadly as an indicator of:
Community Health Status
Community Poverty and Economic Status
Availability and Quality of Health Services
Many factors can cause infant mortality. Race, age and health of the mother are all major factors but others also play a role in infant mortality.
Most babies 28 days and younger die as a result of:
- Birth defects
- Preterm birth/prematurity (birth before 37 weeks gestation) and low birth weight
- Pregnancy complications
- Maternal health conditions
- Lack of access to appropriate care
Most babies 28 to 364 days old die as a result of:
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Injuries (e.g., suffocation)
Since 2013, pre-term birth/prematurity has remained the leading cause of newborn illness and mortality and suffocation has been the leading cause of injury-related death for babies before their first birthday.
Ohio’s Infant Mortality Rate
In 2014, Ohio ranked 6th worst in the nation for overall infant mortality. According to 2014 data issued by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), Ohio’s infant mortality rate is showing signs of improvement. The 2014 data indicates a decline in the overall infant mortality rate from 7.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013 to 6.8 in 2014. While the decline is positive, Ohio’s infant mortality rate – especially the black infant mortality rate – remains too high.
Every year in Franklin County, approximately 150 babies die before their first birthdays. In Franklin County and Columbus, infant mortality is primarily driven by premature births, low birth weight and unsafe sleep conditions.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Infant Mortality?
Every baby deserves to live past their first birthday. Infant mortality affects all of us in our communities but there are prevention methods that can be taken to help prevent infant mortality. A women’s health is the most important factor in preventing infant mortality. It is important for all women of reproductive age to adopt healthy behaviors such as:
- Taking folic acid
- Maintaining a healthy diet and weight
- Being physically active regularly
- Quitting tobacco use and avoiding second-hand smoke
- Not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and using “street” drugs before pregnancy and not drinking or using “street” drugs at all during pregnancy
- Visiting your health care provider for regular check-ups, screenings and proper health care management especially if you’re considering becoming pregnant
- Talking with your health care provider about your options for delaying or avoiding pregnancy.
What Is Being Done in Ohio to Prevent Infant Mortality?
Over the past five years, Ohio’s lawmakers, in collaboration with Ohio’s county & city public health departments implemented various initiatives to address infant mortality. These include:
- Home visits
- Smoking cessation programs
- Breastfeeding resources
- Injury-prevention programs
- Partnering with county and city organizations (e.g. community centers, churches/faith-based organizations and foodbanks) to ensure women have access to services they may need.
For more information on what’s being done in Ohio to prevent infant mortality, click here.