Ohio Sees Uptick in Infants Deaths, Widening Gap Among Blacks

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A new state report shows an uptick in Ohio’s infant mortality rate, with black babies dying at a rate approaching three times that of whites.

Data released Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Health shows the state’s overall infant mortality rate increased to 7.2 deaths per 1,000 births last year. That’s up from a rate of 6.8 deaths in 2014. The three leading causes continued to be prematurity, sleep-related deaths and birth defects.

Ohio had 1,005 infants die before their first birthdays in 2015, compared with 955 in 2014.

The state’s infant mortality rate has been among the worst in the nation.

State health officials say Ohio’s rate has been trending downward since at least 1990 and the latest figures don’t reflect recent local initiatives aimed at tackling the problem.