Columbus – Today, State Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus), applauded the passage of Senate Bill 332, which would implement many of the recommendations made by the Ohio Commission on Infant Mortality. Senator Tavares introduced the bill with Senator Shannon Jones (R –Warren County) in a bipartisan effort to address Ohio’s abhorrent infant mortality rate. Senate Bill 332 is the most complete and precise infant mortality undertaking by the General Assembly to date. 

“I am pleased that my colleagues continue to support our efforts to ensure that all of our babies make it past their first year of life,” said Senator Tavares. “The Ohio General Assembly still has more work to do to combat infant mortality, but Senate Bill 332 is an important step as we continue to try to make Ohio a safe and healthy place to give birth and raise a family.”

According to a report issued by the Commission on Infant Mortality, Ohio is currently ranked 45th in the nation for the overall infant mortality rate and is dead last when it comes to African American babies. While some modest progress is being made as it relates to Caucasian infants, Ohio’s African American infants continue to face daunting challenges. The infant mortality rate has actually increased for African American infants in Ohio, according to the most recent available data. 

Some of the provisions of Senate Bill 332 include: eliminating the sale of crib bumpers, providing annual safe sleep education to parents and infant caregivers, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), requiring the Ohio Housing Authority to include pregnancy as a priority in its housing assistance programs, and better data tracking so that outcomes can be effectively measured – especially as they relate to race and ethnicity.

“We are investing in evidence-based and promising practice strategies to reverse this negative and painful trend. We must change our strategies if we want to see a positive change in the lives of Ohio’s infants,” concluded Tavares.

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