News & Opinion » News

Infant death study


Infant mortality is a serious issue in Monroe County, and it's about to get some added attention.

County officials will work with the Perinatal Network of Monroe County to study the causes of death in local children less than a month old. Last week, the County Legislature approved a measure allowing the study to go forward.

Data compiled by ACT Rochester shows that the local infant mortality rate regularly exceeds the state figure. In 2010, 6.9 Monroe County children under age 1 died for every 1,000 live births, compared to a 5.1 rate statewide. The county had 59 infant deaths that year, the data says — 44 of which occurred in the City of Rochester. And Act Rochester's statistics also show that minorities experience higher infant mortality rates.

Approximately three-quarters of local infants who die each year are less than a month old, says Carrie Andrews, minority leader in the County Legislature. Andrews and County Executive Maggie Brooks worked together on the study proposal.

The legislation says that there's a lack of data and knowledge about the causes of death in children less than a month old. The county and the network will analyze infant mortality data from several sources, including county and state Health Department records. And they'll use the data to develop recommendations for reducing the number of deaths.

The legislation says that the county has made progress in addressing mortality among older infants. Many of those deaths are due to unsafe sleep environments and are preventable, the legislation says. The county is involved in campaigns to help prevent those deaths.

The legislation is a victory for Legislature Democrats, though in a way it's a victory for Brooks, too.

Democrats had been holding up borrowing for two county bridge projects to try to get traction for their ideas in the Lej. They were particularly interested in passing legislation dealing with infant mortality.

Now, the Dems and Brooks get credit for an infant mortality study. And because Democrats also voted to pass borrowing for the bridge projects, the administration gets what it wants, too.