DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Deaths of infants has been a growing issue in Ohio and one organization is trying to bring awareness and change to the issue.

Chris Cook is the assistant health commissioner at Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) and says too many kids die before they turn 1-year-old.

“Every year, we lose about one-thousand kids before their first birthday here in Ohio,” Cook said.

The latest health numbers released were from 2020, where 864 infants died in the state of Ohio during 2020 before they were able to reach their first birthday. CCCHD is now on a mission to bring awareness to the issue and try to save children in more ways.

The health district has created the Infant Vitality Coalition, which is aimed at making sure every infant born in Clark County is alive and thriving by their first birthday.

AnnMarie Schmersal is the coordinator of the coalition and is making the public aware that awareness needs to happen before the baby is born and even before becoming pregnant. Schmersal says keeping yourself healthy before, during and after pregnancy are steps people should be aware of.

“What can we do? It centers around before pregnancy. Diabetes plays a role. That’s where your healthy weight and your healthy diet comes into play,” Schmersal says. “Your hypertension plays a role or your high blood pressure, again it’s all interconnected!”

Putting the issue into perspective, 7 out of every 100,000 babies that are born are affected by dying before the age of 1-year-old. Officials say it is the equivalent of more than two graduating classes of students at Springfield High School.

Health officials are offering tips to change the role that has become such a high rate.

Older homes are known to have lead in them, which exposure at high levels could impact the pregnancy for women across America. Officials say to find out when your home was built, get tested for levels during your pregnancy and plan out pregnancies in advanced, so everything can run smoothly.