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FOR RELEASE: May 17, 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Study Shows Oklahoma’s Children First Program Has Lower Infant Mortality Rate

The infant mortality rate for Oklahoma’s Children First Program is markedly lower than the infant mortality rate for the State of Oklahoma and meets the goals set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010, according to a report released by the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Family Support and Prevention Service.

The report, “An Analysis of Deaths Among Infants and Children Born Into the Children First Program, 1997-2004,” found that Children First Program participants in Oklahoma had 3.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, about half of the rate of 8.2 infant deaths per 1,000 first-time live births for the state. The national infant mortality rate is 7.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. The report also revealed that a greater percentage of participants who experienced an infant or child death reported an annual household income of less than $15,000.

Children First, Oklahoma’s Nurse Family Partnership Program, is a nurse home visitation program for women who are first-time mothers and are at or below 185 percent of federal poverty level. The mother must be less than 29 weeks pregnant at the time of enrollment. Program services may continue until the child is 2 years old. Currently, the program serves more than 5,000 families a year across the state.

State health officials say the success of the Children First Program shows the need to continue to fund, improve, and expand the program. Some of the goals of the Children First Program are to strengthen efforts to prevent preterm delivery, low birthweight babies, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), unintentional childhood injuries, and child maltreatment.

“We are hopeful that this and other programs for children will continue to be fully funded to allow us to improve the quality of life for Oklahoma’s children. A major emphasis of the program is to teach good parenting skills to mothers and fathers of infants so they will know what to expect and how to handle their child’s development,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

For more information or to see if you qualify for the program, contact the county health department in your area.

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