Ohio Campaigns to Reduce Infant Mortality

- The Ohio Hospital Association is launching a statewide health initiative today –“Safe Sleep is Good 4 Baby” –to support Ohio’s infant mortality reduction efforts.

Ohio has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the nation, ranked 47th in 2010. And in 2012, the state had an infant mortality rate of 7.6 per 1,000 births.

Many factors influence infant mortality, but in Ohio each year, more than 150 incidents are sleep-related Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation, positional asphyxia, overlay and undetermined causes.

“The biggest tragedy is that many of these deaths can be prevented,” says Michele Walsh, MD, Division Chief of Neonatology at University Hospitals (UH) Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “All babies are at risk for sleep-related deaths. We can’t drop our vigilance for even one night or this could happen.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Ohio Department of Health recommend the ABCs of safe sleep to avoid these unfortunate tragedies. When putting a baby to sleep, parents and guardians should place the child Alone, on his or her Back and in a Crib every time.

Why does Ohio rank so poorly?

There are a number of influential causes, but experts say factors during pregnancy include the high rate of prematurity and disparities with the number of African American women having premature births compared to non-African American women.

Another factor is Ohio’s high rate of obesity, which is associated with higher rates of diabetes.

Women who have diabetes have a higher likelihood of giving birth to premature babies and/or babies born with additional birth defects that may contribute to higher infant mortality rates.

After pregnancy, sleep-related deaths are the highest contributor to Ohio’s poor ranking.

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