Group formed to combat infant mortality in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The infant mortality rate reported in the Cincinnati area is more than twice the national average. However, a new collaboration is being launched to combat that statistic.

The March of Dimes estimates 13.3 babies die in Cincinnati for every 1,000 births, compared to the national average of 6.1 deaths.

The infant mortality rate is even higher among African American and Hispanic babies, who account for about 58% of the deaths in Hamilton County.

Infant mortality is an important measure of a community's overall wellness. As a result, the medical community and policy makers have joined forces to save lives.

Premature birth is just one of the causes of infant mortality. Twins Tamar and Tamara Charleston, born nine weeks premature at the University of Cincinnati's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, are lucky.

Their mother Angela had good prenatal care, so she says she's not worried.

"I really have no concerns because they're getting the care that they need, and they're moving right along developmentally like the doctors and nurses expect them to."

The Charleston twins are fortunate, but many infants around the area don't make it to their first birthday, which is why a coalition of political leaders, health care professionals and non-profits gathered Thursday to form an intiative group to address the problem.

The initiative is co-chaired by Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, who says, "Everybody coming together, to work together collaboratively, to decide what it is we need to do in order to solve this problem."

Dr. Elizabeth Kelly with UC Health, an expert on infant and maternal health, says the collaborative will take a close look at a very complicated problem, including different risk factors.

"African American women, women who live in poverty, women who are single, women who have less than a high school education and teens."

The goal is to connect expectant mothers with the resources they need to have healthy babies.

UC Health has committed more than $1 million in start-up money for this initiative.

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