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Health Officials Concerned About High Infant Mortality Rate in Tulsa County

(Tulsa, OK) Celebrating a child’s first birthday is a milestone that many parents look forward to, but for some, that day never comes.  In an average week in Oklahoma, 9 babies will die before reaching their first birthday. It’s a sobering statistic, but one that area health officials are working to change. This September, as the nation recognizes Infant Mortality Awareness Month, the Tulsa Infant Mortality Review Program (TFIMR) is working to ensure that all babies in Tulsa reach that milestone.


Oklahoma ranks 46th in 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. The rates are even worse for Tulsa County, as Tulsa’s infant morality rate has consistently remained above the state rate. In 2007, the Tulsa infant mortality rate was 9.42 per 1,000 births.


The TFIMR program studies fetal and infant deaths in the community to identify trends and implement systems changes to reduce Tulsa County’s infant mortality rate. The TFIMR Case Review Team reviews physician and hospital records and parent interviews. This information is shared with a Community Action Team (CAT) which identifies, develops, and facilitates policy and system changes, such as Help Us Wake Up Tulsa!, an initiative to increase awareness of safe sleep practices. Currently, CAT has formed a Preconceptual Response Team, which is working to raise awareness of the Reasor’s Pharmacy free prenatal vitamin program. In addition, the Preconceptual Response Team has also partnered with the Community Service Council to develop bus shelter ads that will raise the public’s awareness of the importance of taking folic acid while pregnant.


The TFIMR program is a collaborative effort of the Tulsa Health Department, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Tulsa Healthy Start Initiative, and the Family Health Coalition.


“The Tulsa Fetal & Infant Mortality Review Project works closely with the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the “Preparing for a Lifetime” campaign to stress the importance of systems changes to reduce infant mortality through community led response and partnership.  We are fortunate to have providers, advocates and educators as part of our effort, and continue to seek additional community partners to join us.” stated Alicia Plati, Division Manager of Health Data & Evaluation for the Tulsa Health Department.


Through their case reviews, TFIMR has identified the top causes of infant death in Tulsa, including disorders related to low birth weight and preterm births, congenital defects, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and sleep related deaths. Throughout Infant Mortality Awareness Month, the TFIMR program will be working within the community to promote safe sleeping habits to decrease the risk of sleep related deaths and to educate mothers about the importance of having a healthy, full term pregnancy.


TFIMR will release their Safe Sleep Report later this month, which will detail the program’s infant sleep related death findings.


For more information about the TFIMR program, please visit www.tulsa-health.orgor call Alicia Plati, (918) 595-4069.

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