Cuyahoga County Infant Mortality Rate Shows Rise In First Quarter Stats

Stock photo of a baby's head being cradled in an adult African American hand.
Preterm births have long been connected with infant mortality in Cuyahoga County but new data show the problem may be getting worse. [Vitalinka / Shutterstock]
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There’s been a troubling rise in infant deaths due to extreme prematurity, according to new numbers from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

In the first quarter of 2019, the infant mortality rate in Cuyahoga County increased to 10 deaths per 1000 live births. This compares to last year’s rate of about 8.5. The gain was driven largely by preterm births. Most of the babies were black.

"We have had ups and downs in our history of quarterly premature deaths," said Bernadette Kerrigan, executive director of the public health coalition First Year Cleveland. "What we want to look at is, is there something unique that occurred over the last three quarters? Is there an alarm or is this a seasonal change that’s explained by other things going on?" she said.

Cuyahoga County Board of Health data analyst Richard Stacklin keeps track of infant mortality data for the county and the large number of preterm births has him concerned. 

"I would like to know why are we seeing that trend in black non-Hispanic very preterm birth rate. Why are we seeing quarter over quarter increase for the last four quarters?" he said. 

First Year Cleveland has tasked local healthcare providers with looking into the data to better understand the emerging trend.

On the positive side, this quarter’s infant mortality stats show no Hispanic infant deaths, a change from the spike seen last quarter.

 

 

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