Ohio senator seeks enhanced data on infant deaths - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Ohio senator seeks enhanced data on infant deaths

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A new approach to learning more about the causes of infant mortality is the aim of new legislation introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown.

The Ohio democrat outlined his bill during a visit to Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley in Boardman on Wednesday. Brown told the meeting of public health and hospital officials that it is unacceptable for Ohio to have the highest infant mortality rate for African-American babies and rank 47th in the nation for all births. He believes part of the problem is the current method for collecting data related to infant deaths.

"Public health people have told us it's just not working the way we do it now," said Brown.

Senator Brown is proposing new legislation that would create an enhanced national data collection system.

"To better track stillbirths and unexpected infant deaths and identify risk factors to understand and prevent these kinds of tragedies in the future," said Brown.

It's an issue the county and city health departments encountered a year ago when they launched a community initiative on infant mortality.

"We searched for the data, what we learned is that meaningful data, consistent data, is difficult to find," said Patricia Sweeney, the Mahoning County Health Commissioner.

Dr. Elena Rossi, of Akron Children's Mahoning Valley, believes that more complete data will prove to be a valuable tool.

"Researchers can look at larger data bases and help find explanations, and hopefully prevent these deaths," said Dr. Rossi.

One thing they do know is the importance of educating families about safe sleep practices for babies. Alone, on their back, in their own crib.

"Each week in Ohio three infants die, found in unsafe sleep environments and two of those I believe are potentially preventable," said Rossi.

Senator Brown is hopeful that more complete data collection will shed new light on sudden unexpected deaths.

"No parent should have to grieve the loss of a child and get no explanation and have no understanding of what actually happened," said Brown.



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