The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

May 27, 2013

Organizations hope to correct Garfield County’s high infant mortality rate

ENID, Okla. — It’s almost always good to be at the top.

But, in one statistic, being near the top is terrible. Garfield County has an infant mortality rate of 10.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. That ranks Garfield County second in the state – behind only Kay County — and well above the state average of 7.85 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Community Development Support Association and Garfield County Health Department hope to do something about changing that. Last week, they hosted the Infant Mortality Summit. The purpose was to kick off the Preparing for a Lifetime public awareness campaign.

Organizers want to raise awareness of the infant mortality issue, in particular, safe sleeping. The two main goals, as articulated by Dianne Juhnke, early childhood director of CDSA, are “... babies to be healthy, and we want them to be safe.”

A couple of factors, experts say, feature into Garfield County’s high infant mortality rate: the high rate of domestic violence, which creates a toxic environment in many homes and accidents.

In the coming months, the agencies participating in the Preparing for a Lifetime initiative will make a public awareness push.

We know the situation won’t change overnight, but this is an important effort that deserves support from everyone.

One child who dies too early is too many. One child saved is a wonderful thing.

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