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Health Leaders Launch Campaign to Reduce Infant Mortality in Ohio

COLUMBUS (Rob Wells/Kate Liebers) -- The Infant Mortality Task Force initiative is expected to give new lives a better chance at survival.

The task force's main goal is to take Ohio off the nation's list for states where the most young lives are lost. Ohio health officials said that an average of 1,000 buckeye state babies die before their first birthday.

"Right now we're ranked 47th worst in the nation for the rate of our babies born alive and making it to their first year of life," said Dr. Theodore Wymyslo of the Ohio Department of Health.

On Friday, state health officials partnered with Columbus city leaders to launch a campaign aimed at expectant mothers. The $6-million plan is to focus on reducing low birth weight deliveries and sleep-related deaths as well as preventing birth defects.

"For sleeping, we lose three babies a week in Ohio due to death in unsafe sleeping environments," said Karen Hughes of Community Health Services.

The campaign is expected to also entail encouraging young mothers to eat better, take more vitamins and quit smoking.

"City council has been supportive of the health department in terms of supporting pre natal care for low income individuals," Hughes said.

Those involved in the program said they will be going to health departments around Central Ohio to encourage early screenings.

"The nation right now is at about six deaths per 1,000 births," Wymyslo said. "We're closer to seven so we have a long way to go."
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