PIC - INFANT MORTALITY MOM BABYInfant mortality is the death of a child less than one year of age. It is measured as infant mortality rate (IMR), which is the number of deaths of children under one year of age per 1000 live births.  It is a serious concern in every corner of America.

An indication of that includes how Gov. John Kasich, (R-Ohio) announced new efforts recently to try to reduce Ohio’s infant mortality rate by targeting “hot spot” areas in the state where the problem is greatest.

Those communities, identified by the Ohio Department of Health, are: Butler County, Canton and Stark County, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, Youngstown and Mahoning County, Dayton and Montgomery County, Summit County and Toledo and Lucas County.

Kasich announced two strategies to try to lower mortality rates.

  • The Ohio Medicaid program will direct the managed health care organizations to connect pregnant women and babies who are Medicaid recipients in the hot spot communities with high-risk care management benefits.
  • The Office of Health Transformation will work to identify and fund research based best-practice methods of group care for expecting mothers in both targeted urban and rural communities.

Ohio’s infant mortality rate is nearly 30 percent higher than the national average In 2011, according to the Health Transformation Office. The rate reflects the number of babies who die within their first year of life per thousand live births.

That year there were 7.88 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Ohio. The national rate was 6.07.  “Ohio has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the nation and that is simply unacceptable,” Kasich said.  Acknowledgment of the problem is crucial.

PIC - MICHIGAN MATERNAL INFANT HEALTHOther states are making similar efforts.  In Michigan the Maternal Infant Health Program provides a fee for service, care coordination, case management, early intervention program that can provide up to 36 home visits by professionals for pregnant mothers and their new babies.  The goal is to ensure we maximize resources that contribute to a healthy pregnancy, birth and child.  Special efforts are made to assist children born with a pre-disposal to addiction.

Classes in lactation and birthing are also paid for.

If the wealthiest and most advanced nation on earth did not make an effort to positively impact infant mortality, something surely would be gravely wrong.  Every community should be working at healthier births, like the America of yesterday when an entire neighborhood took an interest in its children and expecting mothers.

Its not just a nice gesture; its a public health necessity.

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