Google the word “newborn” and images of sleepy, cuddly, adorable babies will appear on your computer screen. In fact, the word “baby” alone often brings about feelings of happiness and content. Unfortunately, for far too many parents of premature babies, their reality is quite the opposite. Fear, stress and anxiety replace a time that should be filled with joy.
In fact Oklahoma’s preterm birth rate has risen from 10.6 to 11.1 percent as recently reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health and March of Dimes Report Card. Premature birth and its complications are the largest contributor to death in the first year of life in the United States, and the leading cause of death in children under age five worldwide.
Various inequities related to income and access to health care as well as racial disparities affect this issue but the result is always disturbingly the same — babies are being born too soon.
So, what’s being done to help address these inequities? Fortunately, the March of Dimes and other health partners in Oklahoma have launched several programs to help reduce preterm births.
In Oklahoma City, the March of Dimes is funding IMPLICIT (Interventions to Minimize Preterm & Low Birthweight Infants through Continuous Improvement Techniques).
The Infant Mortality Alliance is working on Leading Ladies for Healthy Babies, a mentoring program that supports pregnant women.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Preparing for a Lifetime initiative is improving birth outcomes by reducing infant mortality and racial disparities.
And at OPSR, Health is one of our top priorities on the Oklahoma School Readiness Pathway. It’s our goal that all Oklahoma children and families have access to health services, such that all babies are born on time and healthy.