The Commission on Infant Mortality

The Commission on Infant Mortality met Wednesday, October 11, for the first time in over a year and a half.  The commission focused on the work that began with the passage of Senate Bill 332, focusing on what has happened since the last meeting (April 28, 2016) and what the state has been doing regarding implementation of the bill. The commission heard testimony from Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO), Moms2B, Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and Celebrate One.

HPIO testified on the details of the contract they were awarded by the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) as a part of Senate Bill 332, which specified more research to be conducted on social determinants of health and how they relate to infant mortality. The report, due to LSC by December 1, will review policies and programs specific to infant mortality and housing, transportation, education, and employment.  Additionally, HPIO is charged with identifying opportunities to improve policies and programs, study impacts of state-funded rental assistance programs, and evaluate best practices from other states.  HPIO reported about the active involvement of stakeholders in the report.

Moms2B shared the details of their weekly prenatal education program focused in Columbus around infant mortality hotspots.  The group has nine meetings a week in high-risk neighborhoods throughout the city where infant mortality is most prevalent.  Centered on providing a sense of community for pregnant women and new mothers, Moms2B focuses on providing tools for at-risk women to have healthy pregnancies and a safe first year of their child’s life.

ODH testified on its work on implementing Senate Bill 332. Highlighting data changes that will allow for more time-sensitive data to be available to the public, the department cited a five-day turn-around for some death-specific data.  The department touched on the continued progress made with Ohio’s medical schools and residency programs to include long-acting reversible contraception education and efficacy-based contraception counseling in their academic and residency programs.  ODH also shared a new Still Birth Fact Sheet; similar fact sheets and score cards will be made publically available in the future.

Arguably, of most interest to the committee was the department’s briefing on the 2016 Infant Mortality data, made available last week.

Ohio Infant Mortality, by Race and Ethnicity (2016)

Source: Ohio Department of Health

The data from the report shows an increase in the black infant mortality rate from 15.1 (number of deaths per 1,000 live births) in 2015 to 15.2 in 2016.  The white infant mortality rate also increased from the 2015 rate of 5.5 to the 2016 rate of 5.8.

Last to testify before the commission was Celebrate One, an organization based out of the Mayor’s office in Columbus.  The organization focuses on improving the social and economic conditions that drive infant mortality in the city.  Like Moms2B and in partnership with some of their locations, Celebrate One is located in Columbus hotspots where infant mortality is more likely to happen.  Driving the work of Celebrate One is data that are timely and specific to the neighborhoods and the city that the program serves. Celebrate One puts out monthly reports, detailing the numbers of deaths in the community, sleep-related deaths, and the death rate among diverse races, all in an effort to quickly respond to the community’s needs.

The commission plans to hold additional meetings in early 2018.