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J Okla State Med Assoc. 2018 Oct;111(8):762-766.

Community Based Efforts to Address Infant Mortality and Disparities in Oklahoma.

Author information

University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Fran & Earl Ziegler College of Nursing, Oklahoma City, OK USA.
University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Oklahoma City, OK USA.
Oklahoma State Department of Health, Maternal Child Health, Oklahoma City, OK USA.
Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative, Oklahoma City, OK USA.
Oklahoma City-County Health Department, Fetal Infant Mortality Review, Oklahoma City, OK USA.
Senior Pastor of Mt. Triumph Baptist Church and a member of the Infant Mortality Alliance, Oklahoma City, OK USA.



Oklahoma's infant mortality remains among the highest in the nation.1 Infant mortality rates are highest within the African American community.2 Physician and community partner efforts to decrease infant mortality are discussed to encourage more involvement in addressing infant mortality. The purpose of this article is to describe both provider and community-based efforts to combat infant mortality, particularly those focused on infant mortality disparities.


The leading causes of infant deaths are prematurity, congenital malformations and/or chromosomal anomalies, and unclassified deaths such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or accidents. Prematurity accounts for the highest number of infant deaths. Efforts in Oklahoma focus on prematurity and SIDS prevention. Fetal Infant Mortality Review programs in Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties focus on local issues contributing to infant mortality and promote community engagement. In central Oklahoma, an Infant Mortality Alliance (IMA) was formed including over 180 stakeholders focusing on healthcare access, community and faith engagement, and health disparities. In the year following the IMA's initial work, the non-Hispanic African American infant mortality rate in Oklahoma County decreased by 18.8%.12.

Conclusions and Relevance:

Infant mortality is multifactorial and requires multiple strategies to combat. To address infant mortality and disparities, all aspects of the community must be involved. No individual alone can improve infant mortality. Physicians providing prenatal care make an impact by implementing recommended guidelines for progesterone therapy. Physicians seeing infants can encourage safe sleep practices among their families and local hospitals. While progress has been made addressing Oklahoma's infant mortality, much work remains.


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