Earlier this year, Allen County, with the help of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, surveyed the residents to gain information about health-related data, and from those results, priority areas were determined. These priorities are created based on community needs and developed through deliberation between multiple community agencies and members.
One of those priority areas is the maternal and infant health outcomes. Last week and in the coming weeks, we will be discussing and looking at each of these priority areas. Last week, we talked about mental health outcomes, and this week, we will turn our attention to maternal and infant health outcomes.
Throughout the remainder of 2017 and into 2018, the goals for maternal and infant health include to prevent sleep-related infant deaths, strengthen local resources for women at high risk for poor birth outcomes and increase the number of breastfeeding support policies through the Activated Business Challenge and Breastfeeding Welcome Here pledges. Most of this work is facilitated through the Maternal Infant Task Force, which anyone in the community is more than welcome to join. More information about the task force can be found by calling Allen County Public Health at 419-228-4457.
While there have been many successes around maternal and infant health, there is still much work to do! According to our recent data, 10 percent of pregnant women are smoking, almost 7 percent of babies are born at a low birth weight and almost 8 percent are born pre-term. More than one in four women have never breastfed, even though research points to this as the best first food for infants.
There is also a large disparity when it comes to our African-American population and infant mortality. Per 1,000 live births, about six babies die overall. In the African-American population, this numbers jumps to just over 13.
Moreover, sleeping location for infants also shows a large disparity. While 83 percent of overall babies are reported to sleep on their backs, only 44 percent of African American babies do so. In addition, only 4 percent of African-American babies sleep in cribs without additional items such as bumpers, blankets, etc., where in contrast, 60 percent of overall babies sleep without additional items in the crib.
As you can see, the numbers do not lie, and we need to continue to work to improve numbers when it comes to maternal and infant health outcomes in Allen County.
We ask that you all consider how you may be able to get involved, and there are many ways you can do that. You can join the task force mentioned above, encourage women to get early prenatal care, support breastfeeding women in our community and finally promote the ABCs of safe sleep — Alone, on their Backs and in a Crib without bumpers and blankets.
It will take all of us, working together, to continue to improve the health of the residents in Allen County. For more information about the County Health Assessment or Improvement Plan, please call the Activate Allen County office at 419-221-5035.