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For Release: August 30, 2012 - Pamela Williams, Office of Communications - (405) 271-5601

Reducing Infant Mortality Focus of Statewide Initiative
“Preparing for a Lifetime” Stresses Proactive Steps to Reduce Tragic Death of Babies

Each year in Oklahoma about 400 babies die before their first birthday. Tragically, babies born in Oklahoma are less likely to survive to 1 year of age than those born in almost any other state in the country.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Oklahoma ranks 44th in the United States in infant mortality, the death of a baby that is less than 1 year old.  Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate is 7.85, which means that almost eight babies die per 1,000 live births in Oklahoma. Further, African American and American Indian babies die at higher rates than white babies, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

Many factors contribute to the loss of an infant, such as maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and health practices of individuals and families.  A statewide initiative, Preparing for a Lifetime, It’s Everyone’s Responsibility, works to positively impact many of those factors that contribute to infant mortality in Oklahoma.

OSDH and Preparing for a Lifetime partners are recognizing September as “Infant Mortality Awareness Month” in Oklahoma. Citizens, including policymakers, health care providers, community leaders, parents, grandparents, neighbors, clergy and others are urged to learn more about infant mortality and how everyone can play a role in addressing the issue, including sharing the following information: 

  • Encourage and support a woman’s healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Plan for pregnancy and strive to be healthy before and between pregnancies.
  • Take 400 mcg of folic acid daily to help reduce chances of having a baby with birth defects.
  • Quit smoking and provide a smoke-free environment for baby.
  • Get tested and treated, if needed, for sexually-transmitted diseases.
  • Have a full-term pregnancy (about 40 weeks).
  • Know the signs and get help for postpartum depression.
  • Place baby on his or her back to sleep.
  • Breastfeed baby and support a woman’s choice to breastfeed.
  • Keep your cool when baby will not stop crying and never shake a baby.
  • Install and use properly an age-appropriate car seat.
  • Watch baby at all times and never leave a baby unattended.

“Too many Oklahoma families and communities suffer from the heartbreaking death of a baby,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. “Actions we take now can influence the health and well being of Oklahoma babies for their entire lifetime and improve the health status of our state as well.”

During September, Preparing for a Lifetime partners will work in their communities to distribute wallet-size resource cards with health tips, helpful websites, and health resource telephone numbers to women of childbearing age and to locations where they frequently visit. Partners in this statewide initiative include the following:

- Community Health Centers, Inc./Central Oklahoma Healthy Start
- Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa
- Coalition of Oklahoma Breastfeeding Advocates
- Indian Health Services
- March of Dimes
- Oklahoma Child Death Review Board
- Oklahoma City Area Inter-Tribal Health Board
- Oklahoma City-County Health Department
- Oklahoma Department of Human Services
- Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
- Oklahoma Family Network
- Oklahoma Health Care Authority
- Oklahoma State Department of Health
- Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust
- Safe Kids Oklahoma
- Smart Start Oklahoma
- The Parent Child Center of Tulsa
- The State Chamber
- Tulsa Health Department/Tulsa Healthy Start
- Turning Point Coalitions
- University of Oklahoma College of Continuing Education
- University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center/Department of OB/GYN and Pediatrics
- University of Oklahoma Medical Center

To obtain the resource cards for distribution in your community, contact one of the initiative partners or email Janette Cline at janettec@health.ok.gov.  To learn more about what steps you can take to help ensure the health and safety of Oklahoma’s babies, visit the Preparing for a Lifetime, It’s Everyone’s Responsibility web pages at http://iio.health.ok.gov.

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