With a preterm birth rate of 11.6% in 2012, the United States has one of the highest rates among developed countries, and is comparable to Ethiopia and Thailand.  Ohio struggles with rates higher than the national average.  Hamilton County, home to excellent medical resources, has a preterm birth rate of 13.4%, ranking near the bottom of all Ohio counties on this measure. Preterm births are the leading cause of infant mortality in Hamilton County, and oftentimes result in health complications later in life.  In Avondale, almost 19% of babies are born too early.

We wanted to understand not only why this is happening, but also, how we might change these outcomes. How might we reduce the pain and suffering to families? How might we improve the health and wellbeing of our community? How might we equip families with knowledge of their neighborhood resources to make the best decisions for their families? How might we build relationships with primary care to promote wellness rather than relying on the Emergency Department? How might we make a positive impact for families, hospitals, and neighborhoods?

To ground our efforts, we launched an effort to achieve a deeper understanding of the women and families we serve in Avondale through ethnography and user-centered design. Moms and families welcomed us into their homes, told us their stories, and helped us understand their experience. Further, community stakeholders lent their expertise to ground our research in context. Our focus was not just to understand the problem, but to also develop ideas and solution concepts we can test in the real world. From our research in Avondale, we can create solutions to lower the rate of preterm birth that can be scaled to Cincinnati, Ohio, and the nation.

We invite you to preview our learnings (rooted in the stories of women and families), to think about the problem in a new and different way, and explore opportunities to change outcomes for families. 

We want to eradicate preterm births in Cincinnati. How will you help us?



In September 2013, TriHealth, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), Every Child Succeeds, and the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) began exploring the challenge of reducing preterm births. With a focus on Avondale, CCHMC’s home and community, we wanted to understand the human factors that contribute to the inexplicably high rates of preterm births - babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy - as well as the use of the Emergency Department for primary care treatable conditions. 

Research Breakdown