Infant Mortality Research Partnership

Ohio ranks 45th in the nation for infant mortality (IM), with a rate of 7.33 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013. Ohio’s rate has declined by 10.3% since 2005, but this has not kept pace with the national average rate of improvement (13.1%), and at least 20 states have experienced declines in excess of 15%.  

The risk of infant mortality varies substantially by race and location. Black babies are more likely to die within the first year of life even when taking into account social and economic factors. Metropolitan and Appalachian counties also have higher rates of IM than the state average.

In order to further the goal of reducing infant mortality in Ohio, the Governor's Office of Health Transformation, in cooperation with the Ohio Departments of Medicaid, Health, and Higher Education, is sponsoring the Infant Mortality Research Partnership (IMRP). University research teams at Ohio universities are working to identify the state’s geographic, social, and clinical IM patterns, identifying IM “hot spots” and the factors that most strongly predict risk of IM and associated outcomes such as preterm birth. Project researchers are also working to identify the impacts of interventions and resources needed to improve IM outcomes for underserved populations, and address IM from a systems perspective. The Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center (GRC) is providing project management, data, analytical and infrastructure support to the Partnership’s efforts.

The Infant Mortality Research Partnership funds research projects in the following areas:

  • Systems dynamics modeling to identify interventions to reduce infant mortality within Medicaid and underserved populations. Interventions include progesterone, safe sleep, improved access to care, breastfeeding, and behavioral interventions to prevent or delay preterm birth and low birth weight.

  • Predictive modeling to identify pregnancies that are at higher risk for infant mortality and key factors that can be modified to reduce the risk for poor birth outcomes.

  • Spatial GIS modeling to identify high-risk communities. A web-based mapping system will demonstrate the incidence of infant mortality in the study area and will be regularly updated to share infant mortality-related data and analyses to stakeholders.

  • Evaluation of the Ohio Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative (OIMRI) home visiting programs, including an evaluation report, program recommendations, and development of an ongoing reporting structure that includes timely performance feedback mechanisms.

The results of the systems dynamics, predictive, and spatial GIS modeling described above will be synthesized into a final comprehensive report. An interactive data display is being developed in tandem with the report.