Infant mortality rate too high in Montgomery County, health officials say

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Montgomery County has the fifth highest number of infant deaths in the state, which state and local officials say is too many.

“Prematurity is our biggest issue here. Overall, it’s the biggest risk factor for infant mortality,” said Maleka James, birth outcome supervisor at Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County.

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Through the EveryOne Reach One Infant Mortality Task Fore, the Ohio Department of Medicaid has awarded more than $3 million to help reduce the number of babies who die before their first birthdays.

There were 45 infant deaths in 2016, the most recent statistic available from the Ohio Department of Health. The leading causes of infant deaths are premature births, birth defects and sleep practices.

Combined ShapeCaption

Credit: Ohio Department of Health

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Credit: Ohio Department of Health

Combined ShapeCaption

Credit: Ohio Department of Health

Credit: Ohio Department of Health

Montgomery County’s rate is 6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births; however, there are racial disparities. Black babies are dying at a rate 2½ times that of white babies with 12.6 per 1,000 live births.

“To see a meaningful reduction in infant deaths we will need a communitywide collaboration effort that touches on all aspects of the problem,” Terra Williams, director of health promotion for Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County, stated in a release.

The majority of the funding, more than two-thirds, will go toward home visits in targeted communities and prenatal care.

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