By Cradle Cincinnati

Ninety-two babies died before their first birthday in Hamilton County in 2018, five fewer than in 2017 and the fewest in county history. While outcomes have improved across populations since 2017, an 11% improvement in Black infant deaths was instrumental in driving the change. With 10,739 births, the infant mortality rate for 2018 was 8.6 deaths per 1,000 live births.

“The credit here belongs to our entire community. Hundreds of individuals are playing a role in positive change in Hamilton County, from social service providers to nurses to moms and dads leading their own change,” said Ryan Adcock, Cradle Cincinnati executive director. “It’s only through our collective work that we’ve seen this kind of progress. Now, we need to bring that same collaboration and shared ambition to solve the intractable racial disparity that we still see in birth outcomes.”

Nationally and locally, trends continue to show a three-fold increased risk of infant death for Black families across the socio-economic spectrum. Cradle Cincinnati released a new report highlighting 50 years of the complex and stubborn racial disparity at the core of this issue.

In fact, Hamilton County’s White and Hispanic infant mortality rates are now at the US averages, while our local Black infant mortality rate is more than three times higher than the White rate and 32% worse than the US Black average.

“Our strategy now is to focus squarely and unapologetically on Black women,” said Dr. Meredith Shockley-Smith, director of Community Strategies for Cradle Cincinnati. “The problem here is not with individuals’ behaviors, but rather with larger systems that are impacting Black families – regardless of income – in disproportionately negative ways.”

2018 showed bright spots among Black birth outcomes as well. The percentage of Black women in Hamilton County who did not access prenatal care in 2018 fell to 3% ‒ nearly half of what it had been. At the same time, more local Black women than ever before accessed prenatal care in the first trimester.

As part of this new report, Cradle Cincinnati is highlighting known solutions for reducing racial disparity in infant mortality, which the collaborative partnership will be investing in this year. These include community health workers, group prenatal care, implicit bias training and policy-based solutions.

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