Another effort to reduce Cincinnati’s alarmingly high infant mortality rates launched Oct. 1, which local leaders hope will help educate first-time parents in high-risk zip codes on proper ways to put their infants to sleep.
The new city coalition created to address infant deaths, coined Cradle Cincinnati, announced an educational effort to address infant deaths from improper sleeping habits.
According to the Cincinnati Health Department, 36 babies died from unsafe sleeping conditions between 2010-2011. The campaign addresses simple “ABCs” of safe baby sleep to stop infant mortality deaths that otherwise could have been prevented. The most important things to remember, according to the campaign, are that infants should always sleep alone, in a crib and on his or her back.
It’s another step forward in addressing a concern that plagues neighborhoods across the city. Some Cincinnati zip codes in the past have held higher infant mortality rates than those of third-world countries. The campaign is also donating 1,000 onesies to area birth hospitals that read “This Side Up” on the stomach — a friendly safety reminder to new parents. Kroger is also partnering with the campaign by helping to spread the tenets of the campaign in diaper and baby food aisles at local stores.
According to a Cincinnati.com editorial by Noble Maseru, Cincinnati’s health commissioner, the recent efforts have been working. He says the city’s 2013 infant mortality rates are projected at 6.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, a 52 percent reduction in fatalities that brings the city drastically closer to the national average.
Previously, the infant mortality rate in Cincinnati was more than double the national average: 13.3 babies out of 1,000, compared with 6.1 deaths per 1,000 nationally.
In June, the city of Cincinnati announced the community partnership spearheaded by Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune to lower infant mortality rates, uniting health experts, political leaders and some nonprofits to share ideas and best practices to better overlap city efforts. University of Cincinnati Health president and CEO Jim Kingsbury agreed to offer the new collaboration initial funding from the county’s sale of Drake Hospital.
Mayor Mark Mallory also entered the city into a contest in February to earn a grant to expand the city’s Infant Vitality Surveillance Network, which monitored the pregnancies of new mothers in high-risk areas across the city with an updated database. The city’s entry was a finalist, but ultimately didn’t win a grant.
Today, the Infant Mortality Surveillance Network still works with both University Hospital and Christ Hospital to collect data on new mothers from zip codes with the worst infant mortality rates and provides them with information, education, depression screening and home care help, if needed.