Cincinnati couple copes with the loss of baby as mom works on the front lines of infant mortality

The linens in the incubator needed to be changed. Nurse Christy Kelley, just back to work and raw with bereavement, stepped to the humming unit and looked inside. A frail newborn lay there, needing her.

Until that moment, picking up a baby was second nature for Kelley. She had done it a dozen times a day working in Good Samaritan Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). But standing at the incubator, Kelley froze, with the still-fresh visions of her sweet little boy, wired and intubated, fighting for every breath until death--with shocking speed--claimed him.

Benjamin Grayson Kelley was one of 95 babies who died before their first birthdays in Hamilton County in 2013. The number is the lowest on record, a rare hopeful statistic unveiled last week by Cradle Cincinnati, a year-old nonprofit aimed at reducing infant mortality.

Yet Hamilton County's 2013 infant mortality rate of 8.9 deaths for every 1,000 births remains far higher than the national average of 6.1 deaths for every 1,000.

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