Black Infants 3 Times More Likely To Die In Ohio!


The Ohio Department of Health’s latest infant mortality report indicates racial disparities are worsening in Ohio.

Black infants are still far more likely to die in Ohio than their white counterparts.

The Ohio Department of Health reported that 929 infants died before their first birthdays in 2019. That’s down from 938 in 2018. The number of white infants who died in 2019 was 518, the lowest number in a decade.

However, there were 356 Black infant deaths in 2019, up 17 deaths from 2018. The Ohio Department of Health said that Black infants are 2.8 times more likely to die in Ohio than white infants.

“Since my first full day in office, when we created the Home Visiting Advisory Committee, we have been working to reduce infant mortality and the racial disparities that exist. The situation is unacceptable: Race and ZIP code should never dictate your health outcomes,” said Gov. Mike DeWine.

The state’s infant mortality rate is based on the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Ohio infant mortality, across all races, was 6.9 per 1,000 live births in 2019. That’s identical to 2018. The Black infant mortality rate was 14.3 in 2019, up from 13.9 in 2018.

The state’s goal is to get to 6 or fewer infant deaths per 1,000 live births — a goal for all racial and ethnic groups.

“Ohio set the goal of reducing the number of infant deaths to 6.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births for all babies nearly a decade ago. We have yet to even come close to achieving equity for our mothers, babies, and families of color,” said ODH Director Stephanie McCloud.

The leading causes of infant deaths in Ohio in 2019 were:

  • Prematurity-related conditions including pre-term birth, respiratory distress, and low birth weight (29 percent);
  • Congenital anomalies (19 percent);
  • External injury (12 percent); and
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (6 percent).

How Ohio is Responding

This week, DeWine announced that he’s establishing the Eliminating Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality Task Force. The group will work with leaders across Ohio to identify changes the state should make to address racial disparities in infant mortality.

The task force will develop a strategy for reducing infant mortality rate and eliminating racial disparities by 2030. DeWine said the group will create recommendations for interventions, performance and quality improvement, data collection, and policies to advise the Governor’s Office of Children’s Initiatives.

The task force will start work in January 2021. Members of the group will hold listening sessions in Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, Mahoning, Montgomery, Stark, Summit, Allen and Lorain Counties. Those 11 counties represent the areas with the most Black births and infant deaths.

“Black infants die at a rate nearly three times that of white infants. That disparity is amplified as we continue to see success in decreasing the white infant mortality rate, without seeing any significant change in the Black infant mortality rate. Things must change now in order to achieve our goal of eliminating racial disparities in infant mortality by 2030,” McCloud said.