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Task force makes recommendations for dealing with infant mortality

 
Posted June 25th, 2014 @ 5:56pm by WTVN Newsroom

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- A task force has wrapped up their work on coming up with recommendations to deal with Franklin County's high infant mortality rate.

The goal is to cut the infant mortality rate by 40 percent and cut the racial disparity by half by the year 2020.

"African-American children under the age of 1 are two-and-a-half times more likely to die in Franklin County than white children," said Columbus City Council President Andrew Ginther who called for the creation of the task force.

The county averages three baby deaths each week.

The recommendations from the committee include things like improving social and economic conditions by cleaning up neighborhoods, establishing shelters or pregnant women, and food pantries. They also included helping women quit smoking while pregnant, promoting safe sleep for babies, and improving access to prenatal care. An annual report will track the progress of the effort.

"This can't be one universal strategy coming out of city hall or public health or Children's Hospital, it's got to be owned and led by neighborhood leaders at the neighborhood level," Ginther said.

So how bad is the problem? The U.S. ranks 32nd out of 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for infant mortality. Ohio is 46th in the nation and Franklin County is 71st among Ohio's 88 counties. Columbus is 36th out of the 50 largest U.S. cities.

The task force also identified "hot spots" in the county where infant mortality rates are higher than others.

"We're talking about the Near East, Near South, Marion Franklin, Northland, Linden, and Franklinton," said Ginther.

Among the questions they hope to answer in addressing the problem is how poverty, education, transportation, and employment factor into the area's high infant mortality rate," Ginther said.

(Photo courtesy Getty Images)

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