CINCINNATI -- Fewer babies died in Hamilton County during the first six months of this year than during any six-month period on record, according to the organization created to combat infant mortality.
And, since its inception three years ago, infant deaths have dropped 15 percent countywide, Cradle Cincinnati said Wednesday.
Hamilton County's infant mortality rate is still higher than the national rate: 7.2 deaths for every 1,000 live births compared with 5.8 nationwide. But the rate is a decrease compared with 9.3 deaths per 1,000 births from 2011 to 2015.
"A drop in infant mortality means that Cincinnati moms, children and families are healthier," Hamilton County Commissioner and Cradle Cincinnati chairman Todd Portune said in a news release. "But, we still have a lot of work to do before we should be satisfied as a community."
Cradle Cincinnati said there are complex reasons babies die, but pointed to four improvements since July 2013:
- Fewer babies being born too soon: 201 fewer infants were born preterm from July 2013 to June 2016 compared with the prior three years, a 5 percent decline.
- Fewer pregnancies spaced too closely together: Hamilton County had 9 percent fewer pregnancies spaced less than a year apart; pregnancies spaced too closely together can lead to preterm births.
- Fewer pregnant smokers: 500 fewer women reported smoking during pregnancy, a 13 percent drop.
- Fewer sleep-related deaths: At least 20 percent fewer babies died from suffocation in their sleep; Cradle Cincinnati has emphasized that babies should sleep alone, on their back, in a crib.
African American infants, which historically have been most at risk, saw the greatest improvement in 2016 with a 38 percent decline in deaths.
"Hundreds of partners came together with families over the course of several years to make a difference on this issue," Cradle Cincinnati Executive Director Ryan Adcock said. "And, we will continue to need widespread collaboration if we want to see further improvement."
Women who are pregnant can find more information and help on Cradle Cincinnati's website.