Ohio's infant mortality rate is showing signs of improvement, the Ohio Department of Health said Friday.
This is according to 2014 data issued by the ODH which indicates a decline in the overall infant mortality rate from 7.4 percent in 2013 to 6.8 percent in 2014.
ODH said while data continues to trend in a positive direction, Ohio's infant mortality rate is still too high.
“While we are encouraged by the trends, there is much work to do – especially when it comes to African-American infants who die at more than twice the rate of white infants. We are optimistic that our recent initiatives will help us accelerate our progress,” ODH Director Rick Hodges said. “Given the importance of this issue, we sped up the process of collecting and analyzing data to provide the annual infant mortality report several months earlier than in past years in order to help our many partners who are on the front lines in the fight to save babies’ lives.”
Infant mortality is defined nationwide as the death of a live-born baby before his or her first birthday, according to ODH. Infant mortality rate is calculated as the number of such deaths per 1,000 live births.
ODH said the state's goal is to reach a 6.0 infant mortality rate or lower in every race and ethnicity group.
According to ODH, the number of infant deaths in Ohio declined nearly 6.7 percent from 1,024 in 2013 to 955 in 2014, marking the first time since deaths were registered in Ohio beginning in 1939 that the state had fewer than 1,000 infant deaths in a year. The three leading causes of infant deaths in Ohio are premature births, sleep-related deaths, and birth defects.