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Preparing for a Lifetime: It’s Everyone’s Responsibility

We all want Oklahoma’s babies to be safe and healthy. Many things can help and everyone can play a role.

Before and Between Pregnancy

Being healthy before and between pregnancies increases the chances of having a healthy baby.

Maternal Mental Health

Some new mothers need help with depression after childbirth.

Injury Prevention for Babies

Knowing how to prevent the leading causes of injuries to babies will help keep our children safe and secure.

Premature Birth

Did you know a full-term pregnancy is longer than nine months?

Safe Sleep for Baby

Sleeping on the baby's back helps reduce the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Infections and Pregnancy

Protect you and your unborn baby or newborn from infections that cause serious health problems.

The more you know...improving infant outcomes

The infant mortality rate (IMR), defined as the number of deaths to infants less than 1 year of age per 1,000 live births, is one of the most important indicators of the health of Oklahoma and the nation. It is associated with a number of factors such as maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and public health practices.

The top three causes of infant mortality in Oklahoma are

  • congenital malformations (medical condition present at birth)
  • disorders related to short gestation (less than 37 weeks of completed pregnancy) and low birth weight (less than five pounds, eight ounces)
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

In response, the OSDH Commissioner’s Action Team on Reduction of Infant Mortality was convened May 2007 with the overarching goal of reducing infant mortality in Oklahoma. The team has expanded to include external partners in a collaborative initiative, "Preparing For A Lifetime, It's Everyone's Responsibility", to reduce infant mortality and other adverse birth outcomes as well as reduce racial disparities for such outcomes.

As part of the strategic planning process, relevant data were gathered and analyzed revealing the need to target interventions that focus on both maternal health and infant health. Maternal health encompasses behaviors before and during pregnancy, maternal infections, prematurity, postpartum depression and tobacco use. Infant health efforts focus on infant safe sleep, breastfeeding and childhood injury. The purpose of this website is to offer education and provide resources regarding these issues. Find out what you can do to prepare Oklahoma's babies for a lifetime of promise. It’s everyone’s responsibility.

Improving Infant Outcomes State Fiscal Year 2009 Strategic Plan

  • Quitting tobacco use while pregnant delivers health benefits no matter how far along you are in the pregnancy. Call 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669).
  • Infant safe sleep practice - Have the baby share your room, not your bed. Your baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else.
  • Get FREE messages each week to help you through pregnancy & baby's first year. Text "BABY" or "BEBE" for Spanish to 511411.

  1. What is infant mortality? 
    • Infant mortality is defined as the death of a baby that is less than 1 year old. 
  2. What causes infant mortality?
    • The top three causes of infant death in Oklahoma are:
      • Congenital defects (medical condition present at birth)
      • Short gestation (less than 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) and disorders related to low birth weight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces)
      • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (sudden and unexplained death of an infant)
  3. What can I do to prevent infant mortality in Oklahoma?
    • There are many things that everyone can do to help ensure Oklahoma’s babies are safe and healthy. A woman can be healthy before getting pregnant to improve her chances of having a healthy baby. Spouses, partners, family and friends can support a woman’s healthy choices. To help keep baby safe, place baby on her back to sleep; keep crib clear of loose blankets, toys, pillows and strings; use and correctly install infant car seat that is approved by a federal agency.
  4. What steps can a woman take to help ensure a healthy pregnancy?
    • Many things affect a woman’s health and contribute to the birth of a healthy baby. Whether a woman is pregnant or thinking about starting a family she should:
      • Know her family health history
      • Live a healthy lifestyle
      • Make healthy food choices and take a multivitamin with 400 mcg. of folic acid every day
      • Get regular health check-ups
      • Maintain emotional wellness and social support
      • Know her pregnancy risks
  5. How long does a full-term pregnancy last?
    • A full-term pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks or 280 days. A pre-term birth is one that occurs before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. A full-term pregnancy is important because babies born too early have a greater chance of having serious health problems and can face lifelong challenges.
  6. Should pregnant women get vaccinations?
    • Even before getting pregnant, all women should be screened for immunity to measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); varicella (chickenpox); tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap); and Hepatitis B. Influenza vaccination is recommended for all women who will be pregnant during influenza season which usually runs from November through March in the United States. Women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy are at greater risk for hospitalization from influenza. A healthcare provider can give more information about what vaccines are safe and needed before, during and after pregnancy. For more information, contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health Immunization Service.
  7. Can pregnant women get STDs?
    • Yes. Women who are pregnant can get the same sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as women who are not pregnant. The affects of STDs can be more serious for a woman and her baby if the woman becomes infected with an STD while pregnant. STDs can be passed from a pregnant woman to the baby before, during or after the baby’s birth. Pregnant women should ask their doctors about getting tested for STDs. For more information contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health Sexual Health & Harm Reduction Service.
  8. Why is it important for a woman to breastfeed her baby?
    • It is good for babies
      • Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition and changes to meet baby’s special needs
      • Breast milk is easier on baby’s tummy and protects baby from many common health problems, like ear infections
      • Breastfed babies are less likely to have some long lasting health problems such as diabetes
      • Breastfed babies are less likely to develop allergies and childhood cancers
      • Breastfeeding lowers risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
    • It is good for moms:
      • Breastfeeding helps moms recover more quickly after giving birth
      • Breastfeeding helps moms return to their previous weight faster than moms who feed formula
      • Breastfeeding may help moms avoid long lasting health problems, such as breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes
      • Breastfeeding creates a special bond between mom and baby
    • It is good for everyone:
      • Breastfeeding saves families money
      • Workers who breastfeed miss fewer days from work to care for a sick child because breastfed babies are healthier
      • Breastfeeding is good for the earth; it uses less energy and creates less waste.
    • To get assistance or get questions answered, call the Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline at 1-877-271-MILK (6455).
  9. What are the effects of secondhand smoke on pregnant women and babies?
    • Being exposed to secondhand smoke may cause early death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke. Pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a greater chance of giving birth to a low-birth weight baby than women who are not exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy. Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) than infants who are not exposed. To get help with quitting smoking, a free service is available to all Oklahomans at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  10. What is postpartum depression?
    • Postpartum depression (PPD) is a major type of depression that affects about 1 in 10 new mothers within the first year after having a baby. Many new mothers have “the baby blues” but mothers with PPD may have extreme changes in emotions, behaviors and physical symptoms that don’t go away. For assistance call Postpartum Support International at 1-800-944-4PPD (4773).
  11. Did you know using tobacco while pregnant can cause premature delivery?
    • Get free help. Call 1-800-QUIT NOW.
  12. How can I report child abuse or neglect?
    • Call the statewide Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-522-3511 (answered 24 hours a day If a child is in danger right now call 911

Contact Information

Joyce Marshall, MPH
Director of Maternal and Child Health Service 

Mailing Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
Maternal and Child Health Service
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave., Suite 1702
Oklahoma City, OK 73102-6406

Physical Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK

Phone: (405) 426-8113

Improving Infant Outcomes/Preparing for a Lifetime funded by Oklahoma Maternal and Child Health Services Title V Block Grant