LUCAS COUNTY, Ohio — New numbers released by the Ohio Department of Health show infant mortality rates are getting better throughout the state. However, those improvements aren't reflecting in Lucas County.

In 2018, nine counties in Ohio made up almost two-thirds of the state's infant deaths, and Lucas County was one of them.

The county's numbers haven't changed much over the last couple years. And, according to the Toledo Lucas County Health Department, it's not an easy fix. 

There are multiple factors that plays into the overall mortality rates.

Minority and low-income populations still see the most deaths, but Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB Director, Jan Ruma says there is hope.

"We saw the biggest drop in African American infant mortality in the last five years, so we are seeing it go in the right direction. I think you do have to look at the big picture and definitely the disparity still," Ruma said.

Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski says the biggest cause of death is parents sleeping with their children.

"We want to make sure we're doing everything we possibly can in the community and for the community to make sure we prevent those deaths that can be prevented," Zgodzinski said.

To help combat minority infant deaths, the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB received nearly $300,000.

Of course, the goal is to get rates down to zero, but the minority death decline shows that the group's hard work in the community is paying off. However, group leaders say there's still a lot of work to do.

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