Using Data to Inform the Maternal and Infant Health Crisis | $name

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Using Data to Inform the Maternal and Infant Health Crisis

Thu, Feb 29, 2024  -  Comments (0)  -   Posted by Libby McGraw

Addressing social determinants of health and providing equitable, high-quality healthcare and community-based interventions are important to reducing maternal and infant deaths, and can be a helpful resource. Data available on provides a starting point for understanding the current state of this crisis in the Northeast Ohio region and can help to inform solutions.


Comprised of non-biased data and local resources, the innovative data platform features a use-friendly design and allows visitors to view 250 demographics variables and more than 300 health quality of life and social determinants of health data indicators at various geographic levels. Through, site users can access the Healthy People 2030 (HP 2030) Progress Tracker which allows communities across the region to assess their health status compared to the HP 2030 national objectives, and build an agenda for community health improvement.


The newly published Maternal & Infant Health dashboard on provides a collection of data indicators from several reputable sources, including the Bureau of Vital Statistics at the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), Claritas Consumer Profiles published by Claritas, LLC, and the Ohio Pregnancy Assessment Survey (OPAS) Dashboard.


Infant Mortality Rate

Defined as the number of infant deaths before their first birthday for every 1,000 live births, infant mortality rate is an important marker of the overall health of a community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading causes of death among infants are birth defects, preterm delivery, low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, injuries, and pregnancy complications.


Significant infant mortality rate disparities exist in the U.S., with higher rates observed among Black/African American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native infants compared to White and Asian infants. In the U.S., the infant mortality rate is higher than in other high-income countries. Addressing social determinants of health, providing equitable, high-quality healthcare for pregnant people and babies, and implementing community-based interventions can all help to reduce the rate of infant deaths.

A graph of infant mortality rate in Ohio


Healthy People 2030’s national health target is to reduce the rate of infant deaths to 5.0 deaths per 1,000 live births. According to 2020 data, Ohio stands at 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. This number is worse than the U.S. value of 5.4. Fortunately, the rate has started to decline in Ohio and is moving in the right direction to meet the HP 2030 target. However, the issue is still prominent locally. For example, in Cuyahoga County the most recent data indicates a rate of 7.7, a number higher and worse than the state and U.S. values.


Mothers Who Smoked During Pregnancy

Increasing the risk of pregnancy complications, preterm delivery, birth defects and low birth weight in infants, smoking during pregnancy continues to occur at a higher rate in Ohio compared to the nation. On a downward trend since 2007, the most recent data shows that Ohio is at 7.9%, compared to the U.S. total of 4.6%. Ashtabula County has the highest rate in our region at 15.3%


Efforts to provide screening and counseling during prenatal care visits, and population-based interventions such as cigarette price increases, media campaigns and comprehensive smoke-free laws, can all help to address and reduce rates of mothers who smoke.


Graph showing the data on mothers who smoked during pregnancy in Ohio


There are also underlying factors that lead to disparities in smoking. According to the CDC, tobacco companies use tailored marketing and advertising to target some groups and communities and use flavors to entice specific groups to try their addictive product.


Preterm Birth Indicator

Infants face serious health problems when born before 37 weeks. These can include a higher risk of infections, breathing problems, developmental problems and death. Recent data from 2020 indicates 10.8% of births are preterm — an upward trend across Ohio. Looking at Lorain County’s 2022 data, the number stands at 12.4%, the highest rate in our region.


A graph showing the data on preterm births in Ohio


Healthy People 2030 has a goal of reducing preterm births to 9.4% by the year 2030. This can be achieved in part by promoting adequate birth spacing, helping pregnant woman quit smoking, and providing high-quality medical care for pregnant patients.


According to the CDC, preterm birth affects about one out of every 10 infants born in the U.S. and further explains that exploring broader social policies to improve the health of pregnant people, particularly in African American and other communities at high risk, could reduce preterm birth and associated disparities. In addition to medical conditions and behavioral factors such as tobacco use, substance use and stress, known factors that may increase the likelihood of early delivery include social, personal, and economic characteristics such as race and income.


Additional Resources on Maternal & Infant Health

Addressing maternal and infant health must remain a priority across Northeast Ohio to promote health and well-being. To learn more about maternal and infant health, visit the Maternal and Infant Health dashboard. For additional resources and information, view this resource collection, also available on

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