Kirwan Institute Connects Race, Policy & Infant Mortality in Latest Brief

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Startling data from the Kirwan Institute’s recent report illustrates the grave reality of infant mortality rates in the state of Ohio. Just four years ago, “Ohio had the 4th highest infant mortality rate in the nation” and there is striking evidence of health disparities in these rates, as “black infants are twice are likely to die in Ohio during their first year of life compared to white infants.”

The latest issue brief from The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity, “Infant Mortality in Ohio”, closely analyzes these alarming statistics, placing special focus on the health disparities that exist among races, as well as the multiple levels of society that impact maternal health and infant mortality.

The brief highlights the Socio-Ecological model, which breaks down the following levels of society and the disparities that ultimately impact the health of the mother and infant: public policy, community, organizational, interpersonal and individual. For example, at the community level, quality of housing is a large indicator of the infant’s health outcome as “researchers found that an index of residential segregation among Blacks and Whites was the best predictor of infant mortality rates after controlling for median family income, poverty rate, and the proportion of families headed by a female.”

The impact of public policy is also examined in the brief, with data showing that “a 10 percent increase in a state’s budget dedicated to public health can lead to a 6.9% decrease in the rates of infant mortality.” The report goes on to examine a new model for public health initiatives that can potentially improve infant mortality rates through focus on social determinants and life course factors throughout the mother’s lifespan.

“We have released this brief to continue to raise awareness around the infant health challenge in our state, but also to identify the many non-clinical interventions and investments that will be needed to improve conditions for Ohio’s babies,” Director of Research, Jason Reece, commented.

As a critical issue on both the local and national levels, “Infant Mortality in Ohio” brief addresses specific recommendations for improvement on each level, as well as opportunities for effectively addressing both infant mortality and health equity overall, including a statewide sustained commitment to addressing social determinants of health and maximizing partnerships across disciplines and organizations.

“Infant Mortality in Ohio” is now available for download by visiting http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/infant-mortality-in-ohio/. More information on social determinants of health can also be found by downloading the Kirwan Institute brochure found here: http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu//docs/New-SDH-brochure-FINAL.pdf.