How United Way is Lowering Summit County’s Black Infant Mortality Rate

Mar 10, 2023

United Way of Summit and Medina’s Bold Goal 4 is focused on leveling the playing field for Black pregnant women in Summit County. Currently the Black infant mortality rate is 2.5x the county average. Our goal is to reduce the Black infant mortality rate to 6 per 1,000 live births.

We will accomplish this by connecting pregnant women with services and resources they need. Keep reading to learn more about infant mortality rates, how to lower the statistics, and more.

What is Infant Mortality?

Infant mortality is the death of an infant before his or her first birthday and is a crucial indicator of the overall health of a region. It also gives us key information about maternal and infant health in a specific community. 

Infant Mortality Causes

According to the CDC, the top 5 causes of infant mortality in 2020 were birth defects, preterm birth and low birth weight, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), injuries, and maternal pregnancy complications. 

While not every infant death can be prevented, the good news is that many of the above infant mortality causes are preventable with the right resources. That is why our goal is to connect women with the resources they need to maintain their health and stability during their pregnancy as well as after they’ve welcomed their little one into the world.

Why is the Infant Mortality Rate High?

The death of an infant is devastating for parents, families and communities. Oftentimes, increased infant mortality rate is tied to disadvantaged socioeconomic status. Meaning, a pregnant woman may lack the resources she needs to stay healthy while pregnant and to care for an infant after giving birth. 

Women may need help with accessing quality health care, finding stable housing, battling addiction and more. All of these factors can unfortunately lead to an increased risk of infant mortality. By connecting women with the services and resources they need, we aim to significantly reduce the rate of infant mortality in Summit County.

Why Does Infant Mortality Disproportionately Affect Black Women?

One of the reasons infant mortality disproportionately impacts Black women is because this population is often faced with a more difficult socioeconomic status. In 2019, the mortality rates for non-Hispanic Black infants were much higher (10.62 deaths per 1,000 births) than for non-Hispanic white infants (4.49), according to the CDC.

At United Way, our work is focused on correcting systemic inequities and uneven access to health care and other resources that result in such a disproportionately high Black infant mortality rate. We aim to remove the barriers for Black families that have been forgotten or neglected for decades in terms of how they receive services.

Ways to Help Reduce Infant Mortality

So many infant deaths are preventable. Our hope is that by spreading awareness and connecting women with the services they need, we can lower the infant mortality rate in Summit County. Read on for information about ways to reduce infant mortality.

Getting Prenatal Care

It is vital that pregnant women receive medical care during their pregnancy. A doctor can treat pre-existing conditions and any complications, help women stay healthy during pregnancy, check on the baby through ultrasounds, provide support, and more.

Women who lack access to a medical care provider can contact United Way or call 2-1-1 for help.

Practicing Safe Sleep

Practicing safe sleep can save infant lives as it prevents choking, suffocation, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. To practice safe sleep, parents must place babies to sleep on their back on a firm, hard service every time they sleep. Newborns require a lot of sleep (16 hours a day!) so this is one of the most impactful ways to prevent infant mortality. 

Learning the ins and outs of caring for a newborn can seem intimidating – but you’re not alone. Parents can reach out to United Way or call 2-1-1 for support! 

Finding Stable Housing

Pregnant women face greater health risks without stable housing. Homelessness can lead to many health complications and behavioral health problems like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. As a result, these issues can negatively affect babies and potentially lead to infant mortality. 

Any pregnant woman facing a housing crisis can contact United Way or call 2-1-1 for help. We will be there for you and connect you with the resources you need! 

Reducing Infant Mortality in Medina and Summit Counties

At United Way, we are serious about our Bold Goals. Bold Goal 4, reduce the Black infant mortality rate in Summit County to 6 per 1,000 live births, means that we are busy educating our community about health equity and connecting Black pregnant women to the services they need most. Learn more about our services today! >

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