CINCINNATI -- Babies in Hamilton County are living longer now than they were three years ago.
Premature births are the leading cause of infants dying before their first birthday, according to the March of Dimes and Cradle Cincinnati, a collaborative effort focused on reducing infant deaths. Those numbers are down significantly in Hamilton County since 2013.
A big factor has been moms being better educated about certain risk factors.
There were 554 babies born "extremely preterm" in Hamilton County between 2011 and 2015, according to a new Cradle Cincinnati report. Of those babies, 286 died before their first birthday.
Cradle Cincinnati launched their initiative three years ago to keep babies alive by reducing the number of preterm births. Officials say those births are largely due to two main factors that have dropped since the study first began: women not allowing enough space between their pregnancies is down 9 percent and the number of moms-to-be who smoke has dropped 15 percent overall.
"Preterm birth has an enormous impact on our community -- physically, emotionally and financially," Tina Jackson, Executive Director of Greater Cincinnati/N. Kentucky March of Dimes, said. "In order to help moms deliver on time, we need to invest in research that better explains the science of preterm birth as well as initiatives that will help moms have the healthiest pregnancies possible."
County Commissioner Todd Portune said the drop proves the collaborative efforts between public and private groups like The March of Dimes is working. ¬
"In all circumstances, it takes more than just the mom to decide what to do," Portune said. "It takes mom [and] dad. That's why the collaborative Cradle Fatherhood is very important."
Doctors say there are also some unknown genetic factors that can lead to preterm births and higher rates of infant mortality. But science and technology are improving so rapidly, it's just a matter of time before those factors are unraveled.
Read the full report below: