ProMedica acts on Ohio's Infant Mortality Reduction Plan

ProMedica acts on Ohio's Infant Mortality Reduction Plan

(WTOL) - Currently, Ohio ranks in the bottom five states in the country for infant mortality. A five-year Infant Mortality Reduction Plan has been released through the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality and the Ohio Hospital Association. Locally, ProMedica has played a key role in ensuring Ohio improves its numbers.

Mom of three Nicole Kazmierczak says she was healthy throughout all of her pregnancies. Her pregnancy with two-day-old Da'Veon was no different.

"(We're) healthy, great," she said.

Other moms in the area aren't so lucky. Dr. Kent Bishop, Director of Women's Services for ProMedica Systems, says Lucas County's numbers are comparable to state's average.

"Overall, our (Ohio's) infant mortality was 7.4. That's 7.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, and that means any baby born alive that dies before its first birthday," he said.

When the five-year plan was released, ProMedica began partnering with other local and state-wide agencies to combat the issue.

"What we found was, overall, we do have tremendous resources available, but we don't always link our patients to those resources," said Dr. Bishop.

Connecting new moms to appropriate resources entails identifying patients that are at risk early on. A ProMedica questionnaire for moms during and after pregnancy began as a pilot program in April. It enables ProMedica experts to isolate potential risk factors for each patient, such as domestic abuse, smoking issues, or pre-term birth risks.

"We have to combat pre-term birth, birth defects and safe sleep. Those three issues are issues we have to address," said Dr. Bishop.

In particular, ProMedica has been ramping up the safe sleep efforts. Dr. Bishop says that starts by engaging the mother during pregnancy about the importance of where the newborn will be sleeping.

"Forty one percent of the babies that die between one month of life and 12 months of life die due to sleep accidents, so that is certainly an area through education that we can really knock down a large percentage of the infant mortality rate just by improving our education standards," he said.

Kazmierczak utilizes what's called a 'sleep sack' for the baby, but she says breastfeeding is also key for both mom and baby's health.

"If mothers want a great bond with their baby, I would recommend breastfeeding. It's a great start to the baby's life," she said.

Continuing that pattern is one of ProMedica's goals in reducing the infant mortality rate by the year 2020.

"We identify that the healthier we can have mom at the beginning of pregnancy, the better chance she has to have a great outcome in the long term," said Dr. Bishop. "It's something we need to do and it's the right thing to do."

For more information on the Ohio Infant reduction Mortality Plan, click here.

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