Grant helping Lucas Co. battle disparity in infant mortality rate between blacks and whites

Grant helping Lucas Co. battle disparity in infant mortality rate between blacks and whites

LUCAS COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - Combating infant mortality has been a huge focus for Lucas County leaders.

Now, new parents living in a number of Toledo neighborhoods will receive additional one-on-one level support due to a grant that was announced on Friday.

"Yeah I was scared. A lot of different things went through my mind, but I got past all that," said new mother Robreyonna Johnson.

Johnson weathered the hurdles of motherhood with help from a Healthy Lucas County project.

The project gave her access to counseling, transportation and moving resources. All to help improve the life of her child.

On Friday, the Ohio Department of Health announced an $850 thousand investment in the project.

"It's not just here in Toledo-Lucas County, it's across the state, it's across the nation, and we are doubling down our efforts to really hone in on the infant mortality disparity among black and white infants," said Sandra Oxley, with the Ohio Department of Health.

In 2016, the Lucas County infant mortality rate was three times higher for African American babies compared to white babies.

Officials say premature births and social factors like poverty are driving forces behind the disparity.

Through the project, new mothers learn how to improve the health of their new babies through education and home-visiting programs.

For Johnson, the program was enlightening.

"As far as the death and stuff, I really didn't know a lot of stuff about that. Nobody really paid attention to SIDS or different stuff like that. It made me more aware and to be more cautious about stuff," said Johnson.

Ohio's 2018-2019 budget grants $40 million to fight infant mortality statewide.

The project's new funding stems from that budget.