The infant mortality rate in Hamilton County increased slightly in 2022
The number of babies in Hamilton County who died before their first birthdays increased last year. In 2022, 89 babies died before their first birthday — that's 21 more than in 2021.
At 10,076 births, the infant mortality rate for 2022 was 8.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. Cradle Cincinnati reported 66 deaths in 2021 for an infant mortality rate of 6.4 (66/10,266). That set a record low for a second year in a row. The rate in 2020 was 7.4.
Cradle Cincinnati says overall numbers for the past 10 years are still trending downward. The agency, which was created to decrease the county's higher than the national average infant mortality rate, says racial disparities continue to be a key issue.
"In 2022, Black babies in Hamilton County were nearly three times more likely to die before their first birthday than white babies (13.1/1,000 vs. 4.5/1,000, respectively)," the agency writes. "For this reason, reducing Black infant mortality remains the leading priority of Cradle Cincinnati partners."
Executive director of Cradle Cincinnati, Meredith Shockley-Smith, Ph.D., attributes the increase to preterm birth and sleep-related deaths. Seventeen babies died in 2022 from a sleep-related cause.
"The biggest issue is for us is sleep-related deaths. That is, specifically, around babies sleeping with folks and not on a hard surface. So what we ask is that people would [put babies to] sleep alone, on their back, and in a crib," Shockley-Smith says.
In October, Cradle Cincinnati and its partners stepped up messaging around safe sleep, and it did show some results.
"We do see that when we are really vocal and when we are sharing messages — not just us but this is a collective effort of partners across the city and across the county — when we're holding our foot on the gas, we see change," says Shockley-Smith.
Cradle Cincinnati is preparing to launch a new five-year strategic plan on June 28.