Infant Mortality in Summit County, Ohio

Defining the Problem

Infant mortality is defined as the death of a child before their first birthday. The infant mortality rate (IMR) is calculated by dividing the number of infant deaths during a time period by the number of live births during that same time period. Based on data from 2006 to 2015, the average infant mortality rate (IMR) in Summit County, Ohio was 7.4 per 1,000 live births.

The leading causes of infant mortality in Summit County in the last ten years were prematurity, sleep-related death, congenital defects, and other causes (which include a variety of accidental, medical and undetermined causes). 

Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality

Infant mortality has a much greater impact on certain groups. From 2006 to 2015, the IMR for whites was 5.7, and the black IMR was more than double that rate at 12.6. Over 40% of infant deaths were due to premature birth, and black women in Summit County are disproportionately affected by early birth. Similar disparities exist for other frequent causes of infant mortality. The death rate for asphyxia-related causes was 2.0 per 1,000 for African-Americans and 0.8 per 1,000 for whites, while the death rate for cardiovascular-related issues was 1.0 per 1,000 for African-Americans and 0.3 per 1,000 for whites. Reducing infant mortality means addressing the primary factors driving infant mortality in Summit County. Between 2006 and June 2016, 8.9% of Summit County infants were born weighing less than 2,500 grams. However, the low birth weight rate for African-Americans was 14.0% while the white rate was only 7.4%. By contrast, the related Healthy People 2020 goal was 7.8%; a goal which has already been reached by whites.

This disparity can also be seen in the racial demographics of Summit County births and infant deaths. From 2006-2015, 21% of all Summit County births were identified as black on the birth certificate, yet 37% of infant deaths were identified as black. In addition, infant mortality rates are highest in the areas of Summit County which have the highest proportions of black residents.

Working together to make an impact.

A number of organizations and individuals in Summit County have teamed up to form a community coalition called Summit County Better Birth Outcomes (SCBBO), which is working to address this critical issue through a diverse series of evidence-based interventions. SCBBO's mission is to increase awareness among women of safe pregnancy procedures and healthy lifestyles. SCBBO also aims to empower community leaders and organizations to promote equity and improve the health of women and families. Summit County Better Birth Outcomes endeavors to create a healthy environment through its policies, programs, and activities to help ensure the accessibility of health services to all.

Learn more about what we're doing to fight infant mortality in our community 

by exploring the initiatives below