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ODH: Infant mortality down overall in Ohio, up for black babies

New data released this week found that while the number of Ohio babies who died before their first birthday dropped by 60 last year, from 1,024 to 982, the number of deaths among black infants rose by 15 (Source: “Ohio infant deaths fall overall, but rate for black babies increase,” Columbus Dispatch, Dec. 6, 2018)

The rate for white babies was 5.3 per 100,000 births; it was 15.6 for blacks. Ohio’s goal is 6.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births for all racial and ethnic groups, according to the latest data from the Ohio Department of Health.

“The data show we are helping more babies in the state reach their first birthdays, but we still have a lot of work to do — particularly in eliminating racial disparities in birth outcomes,” said Lance Himes, director of ODH.

Nine urban counties, including Franklin, accounted for nearly two-thirds of all infant deaths last year and 90 percent of black infants’ deaths. Ohio’s 982 infant deaths last year marked the second time that the annual total has been below 1,000 since the state began counting in 1939. The first time was in 2014, when 955 babies died.