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Lawmakers jointly sponsor bill to reduce infant mortality

TIFFANY L. PARKS
Special to the Legal News

Published: March 4, 2014

A new bipartisan bill was filed in the Ohio General Assembly recently that would provide for development of educational materials promoting safe-sleeping practices for infants.

The measure, House Bill 448, also calls for a review of the proposed materials with the parent, guardian or caregiver of every newborn infant.

The proposed legislation is sponsored by Reps. Michael Stinziano, D-Columbus, and Stephanie Kunze, R-Hilliard.

In a statement, the pair said HB 448 was crafted to help educate parents about safe-sleeping practices for newborns.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, sleep-related infant death is the leading cause of death in Ohio and across the country for infants between 1-month-old and a 1-year-old.

The bill states that the health department would have to develop educational materials that promote infant safe-sleeping practices and discuss best practices to reduce the incidence of unexpected infant deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome.

“In developing the materials, the department shall consider information on these topics made available by the American Academy of Pediatrics or a successor organization,” HB 448 states.

The proposed materials would be made available, free of charge, on the department’s website.

The bill charges the health department with revising the materials as necessary to ensure that the information in them is current.

Kunze said Ohio has been tagged as having the fourth-highest infant mortality rate in the country.

“No parent should suffer the experience of losing a child when they should be asleep safe and sound,” she said. “As a mother and state representative I find it very disappointing that Ohio is ranked 47 out of 49 states for black infant mortality. This piece of legislation will help move Ohio in the right direction.”

HB 448 states that no later than one month after the health department develops the proposed educational materials, each hospital and freestanding birthing center must arrange for a nurse or other appropriate staff member to review the materials with an infant’s parent, guardian or caregiver prior to an infant’s discharge from the hospital or center.

Parents or caregivers would also be given the health department’s web address.

“I’m pleased to introduce this bill, which will help prevent tragic infant deaths caused by entirely preventable problems,” Stinziano said. “We need to work tirelessly to make sure our state helps parents provide the very best care for their babies.”

HB 448 is co-sponsored by Reps. Nickie Antonio, Dale Mallory, Zack Milkovich, Dan Ramos and Gerald Stebelton.

The bill is awaiting a committee assignment.

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