September 3, 2010
By Joe Malan,
Garfield County Child Advocacy Council has reviewed five infant deaths since January, only one of which has been looked into as a death related to sudden infant death syndrome.While five may sound low, no parent wants his or her child to die at such a young age, and Carol Wade, executive director of Garfield County Child Advocacy Council, said there are many measures parents can take to make sure their child is safe, especially while sleeping.“When you go to sleep, if you think it’s safer for your child to sleep with you, it isn’t,” Wade said.That’s only one of the things parents should keep in mind, Wade said, as September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month.Besides not sleeping next to an infant, another thing parents should not do is smoke in a house with them.“Babies can’t handle (smoke),” Wade said. “I can’t stress enough how important it is not to smoke around babies. They’re new; they just can’t handle that.”A third thing parents need to be aware of is how babies sleep. Wade said babies need to sleep on their backs, not their stomachs or their sides.Following the above guidelines can help prevent the death of an infant.According to Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate of 8.0 deaths per 1,000 births is above the national rate, and has been since 1992.The top causes of infant death include low birth weight of less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces, short gestation, which means less than 37 weeks of pregnancy, medical conditions present at birth and sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.In order to help reduce the infant mortality rate in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Department of Health has launched a new public information initiative called “Preparing for a Lifetime, It’s Everyone’s Responsibility.”State health officials will introduce a new tool kit that offers information and resources for people interested in reducing infant mortality.The tool kit will complement resources on the state department of health website.“We encourage everyone who wants to learn more about how they can help keep babies healthy and safe to view the website and we invite speakers to present the tool kit to their churches, clubs, businesses or other groups,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline in a press release.For information on the tool kit or other resources, go to http://iio.he alth.ok.gov.