At Dayton Children’s Hospital Groundbreaking, Brown Announces New Legislation to Support Efforts to Lower Ohio’s High Rate of Infant Mortality

Ohio has Third Highest Rate of Infant Mortality in the Nation and Highest Rate for African American Babies Landmark Legislation Would Enhance the Federal Government’s Ability to Collect Information on Stillbirths and Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infants and Children to Improve Prevention Efforts

DAYTON, OH — On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) attended the groundbreaking of a new, eight-story patient tower at Dayton Children’s hospital. This state of the art facility will offer a wider range of enhanced treatment capabilities for Miami Valley children, including an advanced Newborn Intensive Care Unit, an innovative Comprehensive Cancer and Blood Disorder Center, and new patient care units. At the ceremony, Brown unveiled new, landmark legislation to help doctors and researchers better understand the causes of stillbirths, Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID), and Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Children (SUDC).

“Today’s groundbreaking is exciting news for families throughout the Miami Valley,” Brown said. “When completed, this new facility will provide expanded emergency, specialty, and general patient care. Ohio is lucky to have such an exceptional network of world class children’s hospitals – like Dayton Children’s – to help tackle some of the most difficult illnesses, diseases, and conditions facing Ohio’s children and infants.

“Currently, Ohio is worst in the nation for African American infant mortality and 48th in the nation for all births,” Brown continued. “This is unacceptable. No parent should have to grieve the loss of a child without access to answers and help. That’s why I am introducing the Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act to help doctors and researchers – like those at Dayton Children’s Hospital – begin to fight back against these tragic losses and help ensure all children in the Miami Valley have every opportunity to lead healthy and full lives.”

In 2012, 1,047 Ohio babies died before their first birthday. Each year, there are more than 25,000 stillbirths in the United States. Many of these deaths are the result of birth defects, umbilical cord problems, chronic conditions of the mother, or infections. However, there is no known cause for as many as half of all stillbirths, leaving thousands of parents without any explanation for these deaths. In addition, there are more than 4,600 sudden unexpected infant deaths each year and another 200 children between the age of one and four who die without any clear cause for their death.

Brown’s Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act would fill the gaps in federal reporting of infant and childhood deaths as a way to improve prevention efforts. The legislation would give the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) authority to standardize the protocols used by medical examiners in stillbirths and unexpected infant and childhood deaths. Additionally, the legislation would build on existing activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish and promote a standard method of data collection for scene investigations and autopsies so that every entity involved in investigating the deaths of infants and young children is on the same page. This would enable doctors and researchers to better track and prevent these tragic losses.

The Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act, bipartisan legislation that was introduced with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), is supported by more than 20 local, state, and national organizations, including the Children’s Hospital Association, the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners, and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. In addition, the Ohio Hospital Association and the Ohio Public Health Association have endorsed this legislation.

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