County health officials to address concerns over increase in African American infant mortality rate

WTVG - According to a release from the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department officials are disheartened by the increase of Lucas County’s African American infant mortality rate (IMR).

The IMR is the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births. According to the release the three leading causes of infant death are prematurity/pre-term births, sleep-related death, and birth defects, however, premature birth continues to be a leading cause of infant mortality and sickness in Lucas County.

Premature birth is defined as a birth occurring before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. Factors that may contribute to premature birth are a short time period between pregnancies, smoking, obesity, and high stress. Premature birth may result in the baby having problems with breathing, infections, and often leading to admission to the neonatal intensive care unit.

In 2016, 41 babies didn’t reach their 1st birthday. September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month and the disparity between black and white babies continues to expand.

To raise awareness and to share the steps the agency is taking to help reduce the infant mortality rate the Health Department is holding a media event Thursday at its Erie Street location in Toledo.