Infant mortality rates are a globally accepted measure of a community’s well-being. And, while Columbus is widely considered to be one of our nation’s more prosperous, well-educated and progressive communities, we have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. Consider:
- Every week in Franklin County, more than three families experience the death of a baby before his or her first birthday.
- Franklin County’s infant mortality rate for 2013 is as high as the national rate from the early 1990s.
- The infant mortality rate for black babies is two-and-a-half times that of white babies in Franklin County.
Not only are too many babies dying before they reach their first birthdays, too many – 13 percent of babies in Franklin County – are born too early. Disorders related to prematurity and low birth weights are the leading causes of infant deaths, but those same disorders can cause ongoing challenges for babies who survive.
This stark reality led to the formation of the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force. This Task Force was charged with developing a community plan to reduce infant mortality by 40 percent and cut the racial disparity gap in half.
Over the last six months, the Task Force members have extensively studied the evidence on what works and the experience of other communities. They have considered how these practices and approaches can best be adapted to address the unique challenges – and build on the distinct strengths – of our own community. The Task Force also asked the community for its ideas about how we can turn the tide. Below are key findings from this process and an overview of the plan and recommendations.