11-20-2012 (Dayton, OH) -
High infant mortality and associated racial disparities are one of Ohio’s biggest public health challenges. Ohio has a higher rate of dying babies than most other states, all surrounding states, and most developed countries. More than 1,000 Ohio babies died in 2010 – including 50 babies in Montgomery County alone.
On Wednesday, November 28, eighteen members of the Dayton Children’s staff will be joining partners from around the state at the Infant Mortality Summit in Columbus Turn Up the Volume about Ohio Infant Mortality. This is the first step of many that Dayton Children’s plans to raise awareness of this health issue and identify ways to significantly reduce infant mortality in Montgomery County and throughout the state.
“Preterm birth is the leading cause of infant mortality,” says Stephen Hunter, MD, neonatologist at Dayton Children’s. “We see hundreds of babies each year born prior to 37 weeks of gestation – or preterm. Many of these babies are at risk for adverse health outcomes such as cerebral palsy, developmental delay, and vision/hearing impairment. At Dayton Children’s, we want to see all babies live until their first birthday – and well beyond.”
Over the next several months, Dayton Children’s will be joining with partners around the state to learn more about infant mortality and identify key tactics to address this important issue in our community.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, of infants born in Ohio, 12.7 percent were preterm compared to 11.7 percent in the US (2011). In 2010, Ohio had the 15th highest rate of preterm births and fell short of the Healthy People 2020 objective of 11.4 percent. In 2011, 8.6 percent of all Ohio births were low birth weight, above the US rate of 8.1 and leaving room for improvement to reach the Healthy People 2020 objective of 7.8 percent.
“Infant mortality is everyone’s challenge – not just a problem for public health and medicine,” says Dr. Hunter. “Only by cooperating at the community level can we successfully meet the challenge. We have seen other states and communities who have dramatically reduced infant deaths by working together and doing things differently – we know we can make a difference for these babies.”
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