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COLUMBUS, OH — November is Prematurity Awareness Month, with the goal of raising awareness about the need to give babies a healthy start in life. In 2016, 1,024 Ohio infants died before their first birthday. Infant mortality rates for white and black infants increased from 2015 to 2016, with black infants dying at nearly three times the rate of white infants. In Mahoning and Trumbull Counties, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio (PPGOH) works with high-risk African American pregnant women where they live, assisting them in accessing community health and supportive resources.

With the support of Moms & Babies First, Planned Parenthood’s Community Health Workers ensure mothers enrolled in the program have access to the best prenatal and post pregnancy medical care while also providing systematic emotional support and connections to available community resources. Last year, Planned Parenthood helped over 150 women, working with their families, through the first year of a newborn’s life.

Statement from Melissa LaManna, PPGOH Community Education Manager:

“Infant mortality rates in Ohio are startling. With black infants dying at three times the rate of white infants, we must focus our energy on supporting mothers as they access the vital prenatal care and social services they need to ensure their birth is a success. Through Moms & Babies First, we are able to offer underserved pregnant women opportunities they might otherwise have missed out on, due to any number of health disparities. Our goal is to see healthy, happy infants thrive and celebrate their first birthdays.” 

As highlighted by the Ohio Department of Health, prematurity-related conditions continue to be the leading cause of infant death in Ohio. We have a responsibility to ensure all our Ohio women and their families have the same opportunities to access high-quality medical care. Planned Parenthood understands there is a desperate need to support these mothers and works to meet them in their communities, offering the care and compassion they need and deserve.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio operates 19 health centers, and offers services including birth control counseling, sexuality education, vital cancer screenings, well-woman exams, and sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment. PPGOH offers services regardless of a patient’s economic level, race, gender, sexual orientation, and/or immigration status.

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About Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio. The mission of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio is to protect, promote and provide empowered health care for generations of women, men, and families across Ohio. PPGOH serves approximately 64,000 patients annually throughout Ohio including metropolitan areas in Toledo, Akron, Canton, Youngstown, Mansfield, Cleveland, Columbus, and Athens. www.ppgoh.org