CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County officials announced late last week plans to use $2.3 million in settlement money to fund two programs aimed at reducing infant mortality. 

The settlement was reached in 2019 between the county and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson as part of an opioid lawsuit. The settlement resolved claims the county made about the company’s role in the opioid crisis.

The Rainbow Babies & Children’s Interdisciplinary Substance Exposure programs will be administered by Case Western Reserve University’s University Hospitals. One program will be intended for pregnant and parenting mothers, and the others will be intended for infants. 

Cuyahoga County officials said the programs are open to infants and mothers dealing with substance use disorders. Medical treatments, counseling services, and connection to external partners and programs that can help keep mothers on a path toward recovery will be part of the programs, county officials said. 

“Mothers with substance use disorders need long-term support in order to successfully recover, which these two UH Rainbow Babies and Childrens programs provide,” said county executive Armond Budish. “We are happy to be supporting programs that will have a lasting impact on mothers and their children. This is an important step in our program to treat addiction through our settlement funds.”

According to Ohio Department of Health figures, Cuyahoga County had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the state from 2015-2019.

State figures show Cuyahoga County had an infant mortality rate of 8.6 per 1,000 live births in 2019.