Infant Mortality


A group of advocates working on education, health care, trauma prevention and early intervention for young children has launched a new campaign to encourage investing in programs earlier than ever before. It's aimed at the more than 545,000 kids three and younger who are living in Ohio – half in poverty.


Ohio Infant Mortality Continues to Decline, Gains by Race Remain Uneven

Feb 26, 2020
A photo of an infant's foot

Ohio’s infant mortality rate continued its slow but steady decline in 2018, driven largely by falling death rates for white babies. The rate of infant death in Ohio’s black community, however, remains stubbornly high.

In Ohio, 938 infants died before reaching a first birthday in 2018, down from 982 the year before. The state’s rate of infant death, calculated by the number of deaths among live-born babies per 1,000 births, was 6.9 in 2018. The rate has fallen by a little more than 1 percent a year for the past decade.

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Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, Feb. 26:

Lorain County's five-year average infant morality rate in 2018 was eight deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2011, it was more than twice that.

“21.7 [per 1,000 live births] was our five-year rolling average, which is a pretty high rate," said the county's health commissioner Dave Covell. "Our average rate among white babies was 7.2, so you can see there's a huge discrepancy.”

Preliminary data show the infant mortality rate has dropped for every demographic in Cuyahoga County in 2019 except white babies, for which it increased slightly. The overall rate in 2019 (not counting December) was 7.75 per 1,000 live births, compared to 8.65 in 2018.

Although the African American infant mortality rate dropped from 15.49 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018 down to 13.97 in 2019, Cuyahoga County Board of Health statistician Richard Stacklin said black babies are still more than 3.5 times more likely to die than white babies.

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Chompoo Suriyo / SHUTTERSTOCK

A study found that hospitals around Ohio invested more than $6 billion in community issues. These are programs that take health and wellness outside the walls of a hospital. 

The Ohio Hospital Association says the increased spending on community benefit programs shows there's a need for hospitals to invest more in preventative efforts and other social needs in their neighborhoods.

The OHA’s John Palmer says these programs can prevent more costly hospital visits.

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Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, Dec. 11:

Ohio 10-year map of infant mortality
Ohio Department of Health

Here are your morning headlines:

Summit County Ups Fight Against Infant Mortality

Nov 27, 2019
Ohio 10-year map of infant mortality
Ohio Department of Health

Summit County is expanding its programs that prevent infant mortality with a nearly $2.5 million state grant. Summit County Public Health is working with 10 other organizations to provide support for new and expecting mothers.

Full Term First Birthday Greater Akron was started by Mayor Dan Horrigan two years ago to assist mothers by providing support groups, counseling, and economic and legal aid. The grant from the Ohio Department of Medicaid will also expand aid for housing.


Here are your morning headlines for Monday, Nov. 18:

a photo of the bedroom in the Zalika House

An effort in Akron to reduce the high infant mortality rate is expanding to include a house where new moms can go for respite. 

Crystal Jones describes the bedroom in a small, city-owned house on Akron’s westside. "We’re going to do safe sleep demonstrations over there, pack-n-plays, a little reading nook.” 

A photo of a baby

Senator Sherrod Brown is pushing for the reauthorization of a national program aimed at reducing infant mortality rates. The Healthy Start Program provides free and low cost medical care for mothers and their children.

Brown says the program also works to reduce racial disparities when it comes to infant mortality rates. African-American babies are three times more likely to die than white infants in Ohio.

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Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, Oct. 22:

Ohio’s First Lady, Fran DeWine, wants to bring a program to Cuyahoga County that could help reduce the number of premature births and increase a baby’s chance of celebrating its first birthday.

Moms2B is a Columbus-based program that provides weekly education and support to high-risk pregnant women.

Infant Mortality Bill Unanimously Passes Ohio House

Jun 21, 2019

Public health officials are applauding the Ohio House’s unanimous passage of a bill that tackles infant mortality and maternal health.

Canal way park
Katelyn Freil / Ohio & Erie CanalWay Coalition

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, June 10:

Tuesday marks the first-ever meeting of the Ohio Black Maternal Health Caucus.

There’s been a troubling rise in infant deaths due to extreme prematurity, according to new numbers from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

In the first quarter of 2019, the infant mortality rate in Cuyahoga County increased to 10 deaths per 1000 live births. This compares to last year’s rate of about 8.5. The gain was driven largely by preterm births. Most of the babies were black.


Governor Mike DeWine’s proposed budget includes a provision that would bring the state less revenue – but it’s not a tax cut. 

Raising the buying age from 18 to 21 statewide would cut down on the numbers of young people who start smoking, says Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton. But it could also help with infant mortality among young mothers, and could stop huge increases in the use of electronic cigarettes.

African American babies in Akron die before their first birthday at double the rate of white babies. Public health advocates gathered Tuesday at the third annual Health Equity Summit to address the disparity.

Across much of the Midwest, maternal and infant death rates are high—especially among African-Americans. So doctors, public health agencies and non-profit organizations are searching for solutions.

Among them is Sistering CU in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. It offers free home visits from trained volunteers to families with babies up to six months in age. It also recently launched a support group for new parents.

photo of Rep. Emilia Sykes

Among the issues Governor Mike DeWine addressed in his state of the state address Tuesday were infant mortality and funding for children’s services. Both are concerns in Akron. WKSU spoke with Akron lawmaker Emilia Sykes.

Sykes liked the tone of the Governor’s address. She welcomed the attention he gave to issues affecting the city including a high infant mortality rate and an overburdened Children’s Services agency. It’s seen an increase in need because of the opiate epidemic. Sykes is hopeful when the Governor’s budget comes out, it will include specifics.

When it comes to the deaths of babies before their first birthdays, Stark County was one of the worst counties in one of the worst states in the nation. But the latest figures show that is changing, especially when it comes to narrowing the huge gap between the deaths of African American and white infants.

A crucial component of the change is the widespread use of community health workers, the bridge for mothers like Latasha Mathews. She’s 26, a first-time mom, and, as she acknowledges, the nervous sort. Ten-month-old Sophia is her delight and her worry.

A photo of a baby

Ohio ranks fifth among states for how many babies die before turning one, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2017, nearly a thousand Ohio infants died before their first birthdays.

A bill introduced this week by legislators from Akron and Canton aims to reduce the state’s infant mortality rate.

photo of Cleveland Clinic Akron General Health & Wellness Express

Cleveland Clinic Akron General’s mobile unit will be making several stops in Akron this summer to promote healthy pregnancies.