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City Officials Release Plan To Reduce Infant Mortality Rate

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UPDATED: Wednesday June 25, 2014 6:37 PM

The Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force released its plan to reduce the rate of infant mortality in Columbus and Franklin County by nearly 40 percent.

Safe-sleep for infants is one of the recommendations including safe sleep practices and making sure low-cost cribs are available to high risk families.

But some of the other recommendations delve into issues of poverty, disparities in health care and race.

Issues, one father says, this community can't afford to ignore.

William Matthew Hurd was the third child for Nathan and Michelle Hurd.  And like his two older brothers, his father says, Will was doing just fine.

"He was strong, he was healthy, he was the only one of our kids who could hold his head up right away,” said Nathan Hurd.

But sadly, after only 82 days on this earth, Will suddenly passed away

“My wife took him to the baby sitters house as normal and she put him down for his afternoon nap and he just didn't wake up,” said Hurd.

Hurd says Will's death was determined to be 'sudden unexpected infant death' a variation of SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

He says there are some children who appear to be healthy, but have an underlying vulnerability that, if they are exposed to anything in their sleep environment, they don't respond normally.  Hurd says that is what happened to Will.

He says a small blanket had worked its way over Will's face and he slowly drifted away.

Safe-sleep issues are among the eight areas the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force plans to work on to reduce the infant mortality rate.

Co-chair, Donna James, says the two main causes of infant deaths are premature births and safe sleep issues.

But says across those issues are disparities between the number of black babies dying versus white babies.

“The third component is to cut the disparity down. We want to eliminate but we have to start by reducing it and the disparity gap is simply, but unfortunately, tied to something very complex; poverty,” said Donna James, Co-Chair of the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force.

Since losing his son, Hurd and his wife have created the non-profit organization BabyWill.org  and Hurd  serves on the task force.

He says everyone in the community has to be involved to make this work.

"It's going to get into issues of poverty, social determinants of health, we're going to get into racial issues these are real issues that we have to get serious about as a community in order to save our children.  All of our children,” said Hurd. 

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