Columbus City Council has announced the formation of a task force designed to find ways to lower the infant mortality rates in the city and Franklin County.
Columbus Health Commissioner Doctor Teresa Long says infant deaths in Columbus and Franklin County exceed state and national averages.
Long says so far this year, there have been 8.3 infant deaths per 1-thousand live births in Franklin County. On average, three county infants die each week before the age of one. And an African-American baby in the county is 2.6 times more likely to die than a caucasian baby. Long says premature birth is the leading cause of infant death.
The 18 member task force includes local health officials and representatives from the sectors of housing, business, education, government and social services as well as parents and religious leaders. The group also will rely on outside experts. It will look at the economic, social, cultural and environmental factors that contribute to high infant mortality rates. Goals including cutting the infant mortality rate in half in the next decade and cutting by 50 percent the racial disparities in infant deaths. The task force will begin meeting in January and is expected to submit a plan to the city by the end of June.