National data for 2022 show that Oklahoma ranks 41st (of 51) states and territories in infant mortality. Massachusetts has the best outcomes with an infant mortality rate of 3.3. Mississippi has the poorest outcomes, reporting 9.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
Infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2021
Infant mortality (formerly titled Neonatal Death) is the death of an infant before their first birthday. Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate has consistently remained above the national rate since 1992. From 2018-2022, the state’s infant mortality rate of 6.7 was slightly higher than the national average of 5.6 per 1,000 live births. Geographically, infant mortality rates in 2021 were highest among states in the South, Alaska, and in the Midwest.
Infant mortality rates are an important marker for the overall health of a community. According to the CDC, approximately 20,000 infants died in the US in 2020. There are also significant racial disparities in maternal mortality with Non-Hispanic black infants having 2.4 times the infant mortality rate as non-Hispanic whites infants.
The leading contributing causes of infant mortality are birth defects, preterm birth, low birthweight, sudden infant death syndrome, and maternal pregnancy complications. While people cannot completely prevent all of these, steps can be taken to reduce risk.
Healthy People 2030 is a science-based, ten-year national push for improving the overall health of all Americans. One of the key objectives of Healthy People is to reduce the rate of infant mortality.
Addressing social and political determinants of health is important for reducing the infant mortality rates in our state. Expanding awareness of preconception care is also critical. When women can access health care regularly, begin pregnancy healthier, and receive earlier and more consistent prenatal care, babies are born closer to term at healthier weights. During postpartum mother and infant should be encouraged to go for regular check ups and developmental screenings.
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