In December, I was happy to announce that I gave birth to my first child, Josaphine Jane. She was born on Tuesday, December 8th and my husband and I are beyond thrilled.

I have always taken a special interest in policy matters that affect the women of our state and now that I am a new mother myself, I see an even greater need to work on issues that affect Ohio mothers and their children.

Infant mortality is one issue that has taken Ohio by storm and is a fight we are continuing to battle. Despite the modern times we live in, Ohio ranks poorly compared to others concerning infant mortality rates. According to the Ohio Department of Health, in 2014, 955 Ohio infants died before their first birthday, a decrease from 1,024 in 2013.  Though the rate has improved, there is still more work to be done.

In Stark County, we are seeing staggering infant mortality rates as well. In fact, between the years of 2005 and 2014, the infant mortality rate was 8.1 per 1,000 live births. Local and statewide efforts are taking place to decrease this number, and I hope you’ll join me in raising awareness.

Promoting better health for mothers and infants is a sure and simple way to begin taking control of this issue. Healthy growth and well-being for mother and child can begin in early pregnancy and continue throughout the child’s young life. Routine doctor visits, a consistent prenatal vitamin regiment, and nutritious eating habits are all things mothers can do to promote both her and baby’s well-being throughout the pregnancy.  Other important factors, such as best sleep practices and other healthy habits, nourish an infant’s growth and encourage better health throughout the first years of life.

We are making strides in our own community with a local task force aimed at promoting better overall health for mothers and infants as well as raising awareness about this issue. The Stark County Equity Institute on Infant Mortality is working in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Health to research and improve infant mortality rates in the country. The overarching goal with this initiative is to uncover factors leading to infant mortality and to reduce the infant mortality rate within our community.

I am encouraged by these efforts and believe we can lower the infant mortality rate with increased awareness and knowledge about promoting good health and well-being. I urge you to learn more about infant mortality and this local task force by visiting the website (


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