Social Determinants of Health Affect Infant Mortality
When I gave birth to my baby boy in 2014, I had no idea that Ohio would be ranked amongst the worst in the nation for overall, white, black and Hispanic infant mortality. Every year in Franklin County, 150 babies die before their first birthday. What I did know was that I was being discharged from the hospital with a healthy baby in my arms and a safe sleep book to take home. The book highlighted the ABCs of safe sleep (Alone/Back/Crib). It was a guide to make sure my baby lived to see his first birthday. This book opened my eyes to the state-wide safe sleep campaign to reduce infant mortality. The infant mortality rate is measured by the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births. The national average is 6 deaths per 1,000 live births. The U.S. has one of the worst rates in the developed world. The infant mortality rate in some Columbus neighborhoods reaches 12-20 deaths per 1,000. I thought, “as a community, we must do better.” The first thing I did was publish a bilingual (English/Spanish) safe sleep book to reach more moms. I spent the next two years doing research and meeting with subject matter experts. The biggest discovery I made was finding out that social determinants of health play a key role in this epidemic. These are social and economic conditions that drive disparities leading to health inequity. Armed with a wealth of knowledge and a healthy toddler, I became a ‘mommy expert’ on the issue and felt challenged to do more.
Celebrating One, Marching for Babies and Drinking Coffee
There are many organizations addressing infant mortality including the March of Dimes and CelebrateOne. CelebrateOne is a local non-profit established by the City focusing on reducing rates by 40% in Franklin County by 2020 and cutting racial disparities in half. Some strategies are banning crib bumpers, while others include a hotline for resources and prenatal care, Safe Sleep Ambassadors and Connector Corps; an army of Community Health Workers.
On Sunday, May 1, the March of Dimes is hosting its annual March of Dimes for Babies at COSI. Registration is at 9 am and the walk begins at 10 am. CelebrateOne is looking to have the biggest team of walkers at this year’s event. Go online to register and get a CelebrateOne tee here. If you are thinking of buying shoes to get ready, Saucony and Famous Footwear are offering a discount for you and a donation to March of Dimes. Shop now and use promo code MARCHBBY or print this coupon and visit your local Famous Footwear store.
The private sector is also rallying around these efforts via social enterprise. One prime example is Bottoms Up Coffee Co-Op. Bottoms Up is using coffee and co-working as a means to social change in Franklinton, Ohio: an infant mortality hot spot. Bottoms Up is set to open late Spring/early Summer of this year. My sister and I co-founded Bottoms Up to:
- Raise awareness about infant mortality
- Donate proceeds to innovative solutions that work to this end
- Promote workforce development through community service
- House a Community Health Worker to work directly with families in the neighborhood
Whether you are walking in the March for Babies, buying shoes, volunteering, celebrating a birthday, talking to a friend or drinking coffee; you too can put to “save babies” on your to-do list!
My baby Daniel celebrating his first birthday!