Issues such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), unsafe sleep and premature birth have all made headlines lately. All of these issues, and others, contribute to Ohio’s infant mortality rate. Unfortunately, our rate is abysmal! This week State Senator Shannon Jones shared her thoughts on why fixing Ohio’s infant mortality rate is so important.
Did you know that Ohio’s infant mortality rate sits nearly at the bottom of national statistics? The infant mortality rate includes all babies who die before their first birthday. Our state is 48th overall in this category and 49th among African-Americans. What’s worse is that the United States as a whole trails nearly all other developed nations in infant mortality.
As a mother, these statistics are startling, frightening, and saddening. As a legislator, they are nothing short of a call to action.
There are a lot of things that contribute to our painfully low infant mortality ranking. These factors range from cultural and social to medical. That is why this fall, I have partnered with my colleague in the legislature, Senator Charleta Tavares (D–Columbus) to combat this problem.
Beginning on August 22, Senator Tavares and I, along with the Senate Medicaid, Health & Human Services Committee, have been travelling around the state, including stops in Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, Dayton, and Cleveland. Our mission is to work with healthcare professionals, community leaders, and citizens to better understand the issues that increase the risk of infant mortality as well as learn about current initiatives that are successfully combating the issue.
As fellow moms, I’m sure that you need no further convincing that this is an issue our society needs to address, but just in case you do, the fact is this problem also comes with a hefty price tag. Premature births, one of the leading causes of infant mortality, cost, on average, more than 10 times more than full-term births. This averages to be more than $46,000 per premature child.
Nationally in 2005, preterm births generated more than $26.2 billion in medical and educational costs as well as lost productivity. With 50% of Ohio births being paid for by the state’s Medicaid program, it’s clear that in addition to being a human tragedy, this problem is indeed quite costly.
In 2010, 1,068 Ohio babies died before seeing the candles of their first birthday cake. That is an unacceptable standard for 2013 and an unacceptable standard for Ohio.
September is National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, so I invite you to join with me in raising awareness for this problem by telling a friend, or counseling a young mother-to-be on ways to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. If you would like to learn more about what we are doing in the Statehouse to combat this problem, or would like information about the committee’s stop in a town near you, please feel free to contact me by emailing Jones@OhioSenate.gov, or by calling (614) 466-9009.
Together, we can change and see healthier moms and healthier babies in Ohio.