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Infant Vitality
Infant Vitality
Infant Vitality
Infant mortality is defined as the death of a live-born baby before his or her first birthday. An infant mortality rate is the number of babies who died during the first year of life per 1,000 live births.


Infant mortality is defined as the death of a live-born baby before his or her first birthday. An infant mortality rate is the number of babies who died during the first year of life per 1,000 live births. In 2017, 982 Ohio infants died before their first birthday, and the state’s All Races Infant Mortality Rate was 7.2. Ohio’s target is to achieve 6.0 or fewer infant deaths per 1,000 live births in every racial and ethnic group, which is the national Healthy People 2020 objective.

Ohio’s Black Infant Mortality Rate of 15.6 in 2017 remained well above the Healthy People 2020 objective, and black infants in Ohio died at nearly three times the rate of white infants. Ohio’s White Infant Mortality Rate of 5.3 in 2017 was better than the Healthy People 2020 objective.

The leading causes of infant death in Ohio are prematurity-related conditions (e.g., preterm birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy have been completed, low birth weight, respiratory distress syndrome, and neonatal hemorrhage), congenital anomalies/birth defects, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), obstetric conditions (e.g. premature rupture of membranes, incompetent cervix, placental separation and hemorrhage), and external injury (e.g. unintentional injuries, homicide, and injuries of undetermined intent). Sleep-related deaths are included in the SIDS or external injury categories depending on the exact cause of death. “Other Causes” of infant death includes neoplasms (abnormal tissue growth especially as a characteristic of cancer), anemias (blood disorders), infectious colitis (inflammation of the lining of the colon caused by infection), enteritis (inflammation of the intestines, usually the small intestine), gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines), and other conditions not otherwise specified.

causes of death

Pie chart showing proportion of causes of infant deaths in Ohio (2016)

Pie ChartHelping every child get a healthy start and effectively combating infant mortality takes strong efforts from many different corners, which is why the Governor’s Office of Health Transformation, the Ohio Departments of Health, Medicaid, Mental Health and Addiction Services, and other partners at the state and local levels have vigorously pursued a comprehensive range of initiatives to help more babies reach their first birthday. Visit the Prevent Infant Mortality Ohio site for a summary of Ohio’s many initiatives to address infant mortality from 2011-2016, and highlights of new strategies to address infant mortality in 2017-2018.

Ohio Equity Institute

The Ohio Equity Institute (OEI) is a collaboration between the Ohio Department of Health and local partners. Created in 2012 to address racial disparities in birth outcomes, population data is used to target areas for outreach and services in the nine counties with the largest disparities. Partnering communities coordinated infant vitality efforts including tobacco cessation, group- facilitated prenatal care, safe sleep, birth spacing, family planning, progesterone, breastfeeding support, fatherhood, health education and community engagement activities throughout their counties.

OEI 2.0 launched on October 1, 2018. This targeted structure was developed to ensure the program addresses the biggest drivers of infant mortality and the population most at risk for poor birth outcomes. Entities will implement strategies to connect women to needed clinical and social services. Communities will also work to adopt policy or practice changes impacting the social determinants of health.

Infant Vitality Community Intensive Pilot Projects

The Ohio Department of Health solicited subgrantees to facilitate a multi-pronged population health approach to produce direct, measurable improvements in local birth outcomes and inequities in birth outcomes, including addressing known drivers of inequities. Three entities are implementing a community-driven approach to address infant mortality rates by reducing maternal behavioral and medical risk factors, thereby improving healthy birth outcomes for women and infants.