Prematurity-related conditions, such as preterm birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, are the leading cause of infant deaths in Ohio, the department stated.
RELATED: Dayton Children’s Hospital adding its first inpatient mental health wing
Although the number of prematurity-related infant deaths increased from 2015 to 2016, Ohio’s prematurity infant mortality rate – the number of preterm infant deaths per 1,000 live births – has not changed significantly in the past decade.
The department said it is working to address the causes of premature births such as smoking, and identifying and treating women at risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy, conditions which increase the risk of having a preterm or low-birth-weight baby. One of the more successful interventions is the use of a hormone medication, progesterone, in at-risk women to help reduce the likelihood of preterm birth.
RELATED: Premier, Anthem tout value based health care
The current state budget dedicates nearly $50 million to improving birth outcomes and reducing racial and ethnic disparities, with most of that funding to be sent to local health departments to be used for programming.
During the next two years, additional community-based pilot programs with track records in reducing infant mortality will be launched, and the evidence-based “CenteringPregnancy” group prenatal care model will be expanded.
Ohio’s goal is to reach the national objective of a 6 deaths per 1,000 live births for all races and ethnicities. Ohio’s overall infant mortality rate increased from 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015 to 7.4 in 2016. The white infant mortality rate increased from 5.5 to 5.8, and the black infant mortality rate increased from 15.1 to 15.2, with black babies dying at nearly three times the rate as white babies.
RELATED: Columbus firm picked to plan fairgrounds redevelopment