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OKLAHOMA CITY – One goal of Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit clinic providing services to American Indians in central Oklahoma, is to educate Oklahomans on the steps that can be taken to prevent and combat many unnecessary infant deaths.

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month. Infant mortality is defined as the number of deaths to infants less than one year of age. Oklahoma is ranked 46th in the country for infant mortality, with 8.5 deaths per 1,000 births, compared to the national infant mortality rate of 6.7 deaths per 1,000 births. Unfortunately, Oklahoma and Native American infant mortality is higher than the national rate.

These deaths are attributed to several factors that include birth defects, prematurity, injuries, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and maternal complications during pregnancy.

“Oklahoma City Indian Clinic’s Eagle Nest Program provides prenatal education to expectant mothers and reminds them of the risk factors and preventative measures that can decrease their risk of infant mortality,” Dawn Kimmes said, OKCIC’s Prenatal Public Health Nurse. “Parents that follow these recommendations can greatly reduce the occurrence of SIDS, but unfortunately not all can be avoided.”

A few helpful tips to help reduce the risk of SIDS are:
    

• Breastfeeding. An infant that is exclusively breastfed for the first six months decreases the chance of SIDS by half. It is one of the most beneficial interventions of SIDS and also provides health benefits to both the infant and mother.
    

• Stop smoking. Eliminating tobacco entirely in the infant’s environment decreases the incidence of SIDS.
    

• Provide a safe sleep environment. This reduces accidental deaths of infants by 50 percent.
    

• An infant should sleep alone and on its back every time.
    

• Use a one piece sleeper, or a sleep sack, in an approved crib, bassinet or pack-n-play that uses a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet.
    

• Remove all toys, blankets, stuffed animals, pillows and crib bumpers.
    

• Avoid overheating the infant.
    

• Although the mechanism is yet unclear, studies have reported a protective effect of pacifiers on the incidence of SIDS.
    

• Recent evidence shows immunizations reduce the risk of SIDS by 50 percent.

A prenatal education program is offered to all OKCIC patients expecting a baby. Please contact OKCIC’s Public Health department at (405) 948-4900 ext. 467 for any questions or for more information about prenatal education.

About Oklahoma City Indian Clinic
Oklahoma City Indian Clinic was established in 1974 to provide excellent health care and wellness services to American Indians in central Oklahoma. The clinic staff cares for more than 18,000 patients from over 200 federally recognized tribes every year. American Indians can receive a range of services, including medical, dental, pediatrics, prenatal, pharmacy, optometry, physical fitness, nutrition, family programs and behavioral health services. For more information, please call (405)948-4900 or visit www.okcic.com.

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