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Report: Infant Mortality Rate Drops Overall, Racial Disparity Persists

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More Franklin County babies lived to see their first birthday in 2018, but the disparity between black and white babies has persisted, according to a report released by CelebrateOne and Columbus Public Health. Last year, the county’s infant mortality rate dropped to roughly 8 deaths per 1,000 births, an overall 23 percent decrease from 2011.

“The 2018 data show that we are moving in the right direction for families in Franklin County,” says CelebrateOne Executive Director Erika Clark Jones in a press release. “However, it is critical to the work of CelebrateOne that this progress reach non-Hispanic black mothers, whose pregnancies are too often put at risk by chronic stress and other barriers to care.”

Black women are 2.5 times more likely to lose their babies than white women, hovering at an infant mortality rate of about 12 per 1,000 births, compared to 5 per 1,000 births for white women. In nearly 80 percent of cases, cause of infant death is listed as related to birth defects, pre-term birth, low birthweight, and “other” factors. Twenty-one percent of deaths were sleep-related.

CelebrateOne’s reduction goals for 2019 include expanding enrollment in home visits through a child’s first year, as well as early access to prenatal care by increasing the number of calls to their StepOne for a Healthy Pregnancy program. They’ll also train more safe sleep ambassadors and partner with Smart Columbus for a Prenatal Transportation Assistance Study. 

“Our resolve and commitment to reducing infant mortality is strong and steadfast,” says Dr. Mysheika Roberts, Columbus Health Commissioner and member of the Board of Directors for CelebrateOne, “and we will continue to push forward on what is working, revise what we need to such as evidence based home visiting, and refocus our efforts on tough contributing factors like safe sleep in order to continue moving the needle.”

Restoring Our Own Through Transformation (ROOTT), a local black women-led organization addressing black maternal and infant mortality, points to systemic racism within the healthcare community and beyond as a key factor in the disparity between white and black babies, as the disparity persists regardless of a pregnant person’s socioeconomic status. ROOTT, which aims to reduce the disparity with evidence- and experience-based efforts, works exclusively with black families, acting as patient advocates and helping families to follow through on their birth plans.

“The report as presented provides some data that is useful — in that it further informs the work on some levels. For ROOTT specifically, our work addressing Black Family maternal and infant mortality continues,” says Jessica Roach, Executive Director of ROOTT, in an email. “Our outcomes continue to surpass those in Franklin County as a whole and we will continue to do so. It’s our objective to be leaders in this work, and thus far our outcomes are solidifying this for us. We look forward to the continued growth with our families we have opportunity to serve.”

For more information on CelebrateOne, visit celebrateone.info.

For more information on ROOTT, visit roott.org.

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