Senator JonesIn 2012, 1,045 Ohioans died unexpectedly before celebrating their first birthdays. That’s 1,045 children who will not have a first day of school, who will not learn to ride a bike, and who will not go to their high school prom. The number 1,045 runs through my head on a daily basis, acting as a constant reminder that Ohio must do more and must do better to reduce infant mortality.

Several months ago, following a bipartisan fact-finding tour across the state, I introduced a package of five bills aimed at reducing the high number of infant deaths in Ohio. It has been my pleasure to work with my joint-sponsor, Senator Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus), throughout the spring as these bills moved through the legislature. A comprehensive and aggressive conversation emerged about the reality of this public health crisis in our state. I am happy to announce that the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House of Representatives responded with swift action. Below are some recent steps Ohio has made in the fight to end infant mortality.

The More You Know

Comprehensive information and increased access to data is crucial to understanding and ultimately preventing the heartbreaking loss of an infant.

  • On June 17th, Governor Kasich signed into law Senate Bill 278 which will standardize and streamline the reporting of valuable data regarding infant deaths. This law will enable our medical professionals to learn more about SIDS.
  • This spring I worked with the Hamilton County Health Commissioner to give Child Fatality Review Boards and Fetal and Infant Mortality Review teams greater access to pertinent information regarding the loss of a child. Ensuring access to this critical data will allow these boards to gain a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding an infant’s death.

I Know My ABCs of Safe Sleep

Sleep-related deaths are the third leading cause of infant mortality. In 2010, 14% of all infant deaths in our state were safe sleep-related. Ohio has been making critical strides in safe sleep education.

  • In June, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 276 which aims to educate Ohioans about the importance of a safe sleep environment. This bill would require maternity wards and birthing centers to educate mothers and families about the importance of safe sleep. This legislation is now pending in the Ohio House of Representatives.
  • The Ohio Department of Health has proven to be an excellent partner in communicating the ABCs of safe sleep as they recently launched a statewide education campaign. More information about the Ohio Department of Health’s safe sleep campaign can be found here.

Although Ohio has made many significant steps in the right direction – there is still much work to be done. I remain committed to advancing the conversation on infant mortality. Through education and prevention we can celebrate more first birthdays.

Visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ShannonJonesOH and Twitter at @sjones524 for updates on infant mortality legislation. As always, please feel free to contact me by emailing Jones@OhioSenate.gov, or by calling (614) 466-9737 with questions or comments.