Black babies in Ohio run highest risk in nation of not living to 1st birthday


If you are a black child born in Ohio, you have the worst chance of surviving until your first birthday of any state in the nation.

The statistics are so grim, in fact, that Erin Bishop, acting health commissioner of the Youngstown Board of Health, noted “Our numbers are similar to those of a Third World country.”

As of 2012, the latest statistics available, Ohio had the worst infant mortality rate, or IMR, in the United States — 50th out of 50 — for black babies who die before they are a year old, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Nationally, the overall mortality rate for all babies that die in the first 12 months of their lives is 6.05 per 1,000 births, compared with 7.7 per 1,000 births overall in Ohio, which ranks the state 47 out of 50 in that category.

The disparity between the rate for black and white babies in Ohio is more startling, however, local health officials say.

The death rate for black infants in the state in 2012 was nearly 14 per 1,000 births compared with 6.4 per 1,000 white births, said Dr. Elena Rossi, neonatologist and associate chairwoman of pediatrics at Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley in Boardman.

In Mahoning County, the disparity between the black and white IMR is even wider than in the rest of the state.

Read more about the startling disparities, views from black community leaders on causes and solutions, and a personal story of loss in Sunday's Vindicator or on

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