Taking on Infant Mortality

infant mortality group signingUC Health has joined forces with UC’s College of Nursing and other area hospitals and agencies to reduce the region’s infant mortality rate.

Called the Infant Mortality Collab­orative, this new initiative will take aim at the rate at which babies die before their first birthday.

UC Health’s representative to the Collaborative is obstetrician gynecolo­gist Elizabeth Kelly, MD, who is also the medical director at the Cincinnati Health Department’s section of maternal and infant health.

Kelly, a 1984 UC College of Medicine alumna, has been involved in providing obstetrics and gynecological clinical care to women at community health care sites for almost 20 years.

“By forming this collaborative, the community has taken such an impor­tant first step toward reducing infant mortality rates,” says Kelly.

Infant mortality rates are measured as deaths per 1,000 live births. According to Kelly, while the national infant mortality rate is 6.05, the rates in Cincinnati and Hamilton County have con­sistently been much higher. In 2012, the rate was 13.3 in Cincinnati and 9.2 in Hamilton County. What this means is that in 2012, for example, of the 10,972 babies born in Hamilton County 101 died before their first birthday.

“In some neighborhoods here, we have death rates that are higher than in Third World countries,” says UC College of Nursing’s representative to the Collaborative, Karen Bankston, PhD, associate dean for clinical practice, partnership and community engage­ment.

The goal for all stakeholders involved is to provide young women with social and instructional support so that they are doing things that will promote a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

The collaborative is made up of city and county officials, area birthing hospitals (Christ Hospital, Mercy Health, TriHealth and UC Health), the UC College of Nursing, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the Center for Closing the Health Gap, a nonprofit organization dedicated to Infant Mortality Collaborative.

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