Health leaders seeking to reduce infant mortality
BY World's Editorials Writers
Saturday, September 01, 2012
9/01/12 at 4:18 AM
Each year in Oklahoma, about 400 babies die before their first birthday. Babies born in Oklahoma are less likely to survive to their first birthday than those born in nearly every other state in the U.S.
Oklahoma ranks 44th in the U.S. in infant mortality, according to national data. The mortality rate here is 7.85, which means that about eight babies under a year of age die out of every 1,000 live births in Oklahoma.
It doesn't have to be this way. The causes of most infant deaths are well known, and with the right kinds of steps, most of these deaths can be prevented.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health and about two dozen partners have developed an initiative known as Preparing for a Lifetime, recognizing September as "Infant Mortality Awareness Month" in hopes of getting the word out about how to save babies.
The partners are urging all Oklahomans, including policymakers, health-care providers, community leaders, parents, grandparents, neighbors, clergy and others to learn about the causes of infant mortality and what they can do to help reduce it.
Among the factors that affect infant mortality are maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and individual and family health practices.
These factors, tragically, contribute to higher rates of infant death among some demographic groups than others. Black and American Indian babies die at higher rates than white babies because of health-care access problems, socioeconomic issues and other factors.
The Preparing for a Lifetime partners offer tips that can help reduce the chances of infant death. They include: encouraging healthy lifestyle choices, getting healthy before a pregnancy and planning pregnancies, taking folic acid to reduce the chances of birth defects, quitting smoking; getting tested and treated if needed for sexually transmitted diseases, learning the signs of postpartum depression, placing babies on their backs to sleep, breast feeding, learning how to deal with crying and never shaking a baby, using car seats properly and never leaving a baby unattended.
To learn more, visit the Preparing for a Lifetime, It's Everyone's Responsibility web pages at www.tulsaworld/infants
Original Print Headline: Saving babies