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Safe Sleep program to be rolled out to Youngstown first responders

03-20-2017 (Mahoning Valley, Ohio )

Youngstown police and fire personnel will attend mandatory training sessions March 27-April 7 conducted by Safe Kids Mahoning Valley to understand safe sleep principles and connect families to available resources when they spot nonconformance.

Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley leads the local Safe Kids coalition and will conduct the training in conjunction with the Youngstown City Health District. Funding for this pilot program, which covers training and educational information to distribute in the community, is from an Ohio Department of Health—Office of Minority Health grant.

The Mahoning County District Board of Health will fund a countywide rollout through a grant from the state’s Maternal and Child Health Program by the end of summer. Akron Children’s has secured a Child Injury Action Group grant to roll the program out in Trumbull and Columbiana Counties, as well.    

“First responders are that first set of eyes in the community, and if they know what to look for an how to intervene, we feel they can make a significant impact in helping us reduce the high rate of infant mortality we see in the Mahoning Valley,” said Stephanie Weigel, Akron Children’s injury prevention coordinator.

The Ohio Equity Institute has identified Mahoning County among the nine communities in the state with the highest infant mortality rates. Infant mortality is defined as the death of a live-born baby within the first year of their life.

The state’s infant mortality rate in 2015 was 7.2 per 1,000 births, according to the Ohio Department of Health; and black infants died at nearly three times the rate of white infants. Sleep-related causes accounted for 16.9 percent of the deaths.

Mahoning County’s infant mortality rate in 2015 was 11.0 per 1,000 births; including 20.2 for black infants and 7.5 for white. Trumbull County’s overall infant mortality rate in 2015 was 9.6.