Governor Mike DeWine announced in December 2020 that he is establishing the Eliminating Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality Task Force. Members will work with local, state, and national leaders to identify needed changes to address Ohio’s racial disparities in infant mortality. With the goal of developing a statewide shared vision and strategy for reducing infant mortality rates and eliminating racial disparities by 2030, the Task Force will create actionable recommendations for interventions, performance and quality improvement, data collection, and policies. Its findings will be used to advise the Governor’s Office of Children’s Initiatives on ways to improve Ohio’s investments and strategies to address racial inequities in birth outcomes. The Task Force’s recommendations must acknowledge the nationwide race-related events and demonstrations that unfolded in 2020. The panel must also create a bold road map for change in actionable, practical, but ambitious recommendations aimed at accelerating the rate of change needed to overcome decades of disparities in birth outcomes.
The number of Ohio infants who died before their first birthdays dropped to 929 in 2019 from 938 in 2018, marking a third straight year of decline, according to the Ohio Department of Health 2019 Infant Mortality Report. There were 356 Black infant deaths in 2019, an increase of 17 from 2018. This is still lower than 2015, 2016, and 2017. However, the racial disparities gap continues to widen, with Black infants being 2.8 times more likely to die than white infants. The number of white infants that died in 2019 was 518, the lowest number in the past 10 years.
Infant Mortality Rate (per 1,000 live births) by Race, Ohio (2010 – 2019)
Data Source: Resident Birth and Mortality Files from the Ohio Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics
The infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Ohio infant mortality across all races was 6.9 per 1,000 live births in 2019, the same as it was in 2018. The Black infant mortality rate was 14.3 in 2019, up from 13.9 in 2018. The Ohio and national goal is 6.0 or fewer infant deaths per 1,000 live births in every racial and ethnic group.
A Collaborative Approach
The Eliminating Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality Task Force plans to engage in a focused, multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to health improvement. This will be done by coordinating with members of communities with high infant mortality, and internal and external stakeholders that serve groups that are disproportionately affected by poor birth outcomes.
Allison Payten M.Ed., MCHES
Infant Vitality Project Manager
Ohio Department of Health
Bureau of Maternal, Child and Family Health
246 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 371-9355