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Last week WOSU’s Mandie Trimble reported that Ohio’s infant mortality rate ranks fourth worst in the nation. And among African American babies, Ohio ranks second worst, putting it on par with some third world countries. Ann Fisher spoke to Trimble and other guests about what drives the state’s high infant mortality rate and how to improve it.

In Ohio, nearly 8 out of every 1,000 babies born will die before their first birthdays. Ohio’s infant mortality rate is worse than the national average. In Franklin County, black babies are dying at twice the rate of white babies. A quarter of those deaths occurs in eight predominantly black Columbus neighborhoods.

“It’s really astounding how much racism and stress can affect a woman’s health,” Trimble said Tuesday morning.

South Linden’s infant mortality rate is the same as Guatemala, where 24 of 1,000 babies will die before age one. The Near East Side compares to El Salvador. The Hilltop matches the Philippines.

“I think that we all know that there is this gap among infant mortality rates between races, but I don’t think any of us really knew how wide of a gap it was,” Trimble said.

Jason Reece, director of research at the Kirwan Institute for Race and Ethnicity, said that education and income affect infant mortality rates, but these buffers seem to be immune in the African-American community.

“If we really want to reduce those rates, we need to have a long term approach,” Reece said.