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Health & Science

Stark County Effort Cuts the Infant Mortality Rate Among African-Americans

Ohio 10-year map of infant mortality
Ohio Department of Health
The rate of infant mortality in Stark County declined from 2016 to 2017.

A Stark County initiative has made strides toward decreasing the rate of infant mortality in the county.

Toward Health Resiliency for Infant Vitality and Equity, or THRIVE, is a collaboration of community residents, organizations and businesses. It provides education and resources for new parents and expectant mothers.

Annie Butusov tracks infant mortality numbers for THRIVE. She’s seen success in reducing the number of women who smoke and drink alcohol while pregnant, and a 10 percent rise in the number of African American women who see a doctor during their first trimester.

“Prenatal care is so important,” Butusov said. “And I don’t just mean, you know, go see the doctor once and make sure you’re pregnant. I mean timely, consistent prenatal care. If you have an appointment every month, get to the appointment every month.”

Still, with black babies twice as likely to die in their first year, Butusov acknowledges there is more work to be done.