OKLAHOMA CITY – September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month. Since the launch of a statewide program in 2007, Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate (IMR) has decreased by nearly 20 percent according to statistics from the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
The IMR was 8.2 per 1,000 live births in 2005-2007, but dropped to 6.6 in 2019-2021.
“This means over 75 more babies a year in Oklahoma get to spend their first birthday with their families!” said Joyce Marshall, director of Maternal and Child Health Service at OSDH. “Oklahoma continues to take positive steps to decrease infant deaths through the work of many dedicated partners, individuals and families.”
This accomplishment is the result of multiple programs including Preparing for a Lifetime: It’s Everyone’s Responsibility, a statewide infant mortality reduction program initiated over a decade ago. The initiative includes numerous strategies designed to improve birth outcomes and reduce disparities for Oklahoma’s mothers and babies. Key messages include:
- Being healthy before, during and between pregnancies to improve the chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
- Encouraging women of reproductive age to take a multivitamin daily containing 400 mcg of folic acid to help prevent birth defects – the #1 cause of infant death in Oklahoma.
- Achieving a full-term pregnancy and breastfeeding to offer a baby the best start in life - prematurity is a leading cause of infant death in Oklahoma, and breastfeeding initiation significantly reduces odds of infant deaths.
- Recognizing the signs and getting help for maternal mood disorders, which includes postpartum depression (PPD).
- Placing baby alone on their back to sleep in a safe crib and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke to decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Knowing how to prevent leading causes of injury, such as correctly installing infant car seats, to keep baby safe and secure.
- Learning what to do if the baby will not stop crying to help prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome.
“As we continue to improve in critical areas such as breastfeeding, smoking, infant safe sleep practices and prenatal care, we are encouraged by the reduction in infant mortality,” Marshall said. “We acknowledge that there is still work to be done, but we are pleased that more Oklahoma babies are surviving through their first year of life.”
To learn more about Preparing for a Lifetime: It’s Everyone’s Responsibility, please visit http://iio.health.ok.gov.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) protects and improves public health through its system of local health services and strategies focused on preventing disease. OSDH provides technical support and guidance to 68 county health departments in Oklahoma, as well as guidance and consultation to the two independent city-county health departments in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Learn more at Oklahoma.gov/health.