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For Release: April 14, 2009
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Office of Minority Health to Host Healthy Baby Shower
Pilot Event to Reach African Americans to Help Improve Infant Mortality Rates

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), Office of Minority Health (OMH) and community partners are hosting “A Healthy Baby Begins With You!” baby shower Thursday, April 30, at 6 p.m. on the Langston University Oklahoma City campus, 4205 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City. Door prizes and other baby gifts will be provided to encourage attendance by women who are at risk of having low birth weight babies. This free event is limited to the first 200 people who reserve a seat by calling 271-1337.

Those attending will receive information on health tips during pregnancy, how to have a healthy baby, health care resources, and parenting tips for well baby care from health care providers and health care facilities. A short program will feature a role-play where traditional African-American pre/post pregnancy/parenting tips are dispelled and replaced with accurate information. Doctors will provide information and answer questions concerning the risk for low birth weight babies, infant mortality and the importance of prenatal and well baby care.

Racial disparities continue to persist in infant mortality in Oklahoma. In 2006 (the latest year data are available), the African-American infant mortality rate of 15.2 deaths per 1,000 live births was nearly twice the state average of 8.0, and was 2.4 times higher than the white infant mortality rate of 6.3.

“African-American/Black babies are dying. It is our hope that through this non-traditional pilot effort, any African-American woman who is caring for an infant or who plans to become pregnant will be encouraged to attend and learn more about having healthy babies and preventing infant mortality,” said OMH Director Linda Thomas.

OSDH and OMH are working with several community organizations to host this event and to have grassroots organizations help encourage behaviors to reduce the number of low-birth weight babies in the African-American communities. Some of the organizations sponsoring the community baby shower are: Central Oklahoma Healthy Start, Oklahoma City-County Health Department, Mary Mahoney Health Center, Langston University OKC Campus, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Guiding Right Inc., Infant Crisis Center, Pottawatomie County Health Department, Central Oklahoma African American Workgroup, Metropolitan Library Systems, and Oklahoma Smart Start, among others. Additional OSDH program areas participating are Community Development Service, Children First, Tobacco Use Prevention Service, Child Guidance Service, Maternal and Child Health Service, HIV/STD Service, Immunization Service, and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Service.

Co-sponsors of this event see it as a unique opportunity to improve infant health. “Central Oklahoma’s Healthy Start goal is to reduce infant mortality and pre-term births in the African-American community. The services provided to meet this goal include outreach and recruitment, case management, health education, interconceptional care, and depression screenings and referrals. Other services provided include family support, parent education, family planning, support groups, and referrals for clothes, housing, diapers, car seats, and other infant items,” said Central Oklahoma Healthy Start Initiative Program Coordinator LaWanna Porter.

For additional information about improving the health of pregnant women and infants in Oklahoma, contact OSDH Maternal and Child Health at 271-4480 or call the county health department in your area. You can also contact any of the partner organizations. For information about the community baby shower, contact OSDH OMH Director Linda Thomas at 271-1337.

The mission of the OSDH OMH is to improve the health of racial and ethnic populations through the development of health policies and programs that help to eliminate health disparities.

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