Premature Birth Is the No. 1 Cause of Infant Mortality, Disability
The problem of infant death is greater in this country than in many developing nations. In a place where riches abound, babies continue to die needlessly in their first year of life.
Our region has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. Last year alone, 116 babies born in Hamilton County died before their first birthday. More than 11 percent of babies born in Butler County and more than 10 percent of all Clermont County infants are born prematurely – a major cause of infant mortality.
These numbers must come down. Our strategic plan has set the goal of reducing the rate of infant mortality by 30 percent by 2015.
Ensuring Healthy Infants
There is no single cause of infant mortality. Health and medical care play a part, but there are many other factors at play − genetics, economics, environmental and social issues. The remedy must be multi-faceted also.
With this in mind, in 2007 Cincinnati Children’s joined with community organizations, government leaders and policy makers, and other healthcare providers to form the Ohio Perinatal Quality Collaborative (OPQC).
The group is a model for how hospitals, community and government can work together to reduce premature births and infant mortality. The OPQC conducts research into better understanding the causes of early infant death; works to ensure that all women have access to prenatal care; and helps align public and private providers with evidence-based practices to improve infant health.
Working with the Communities
We have joined with area communities in the Prematurity Initiative, which targets four areas – Price Hill, the Villages at Roll Hill, Over the Rhine and Butler County – to build awareness of prematurity and infant mortality and to provide educational resources to health professionals and residents in those communities.
Our Fetal and Infant Mortality Review team reviews all area cases of prematurity and infant mortality. Based on data from these reviews, the team works with the Perinatal Community Action Team (PCAT), a group of 20 local organizations, to recommend and implement improvements in prenatal and early infant care.
Our Every Child Succeeds (ECS) program enrolls low-income, first-time mothers in a program that ensures prenatal care and home visits throughout the child’s first three years of life. Last year, we served more than 16,600 families with more than 337,000 home visits.
Infant mortality is believed by many to be the best measure of a community’s overall health. We will continue to work with our community partners to improve ours – dramatically, and soon.