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Dying Too Young: Trends show poverty plays a role, many deaths are preventable

Oklahoman Modified: March 27, 2009 at 3:30 pm •  Published: March 27, 2009
In one such death, a mother admitted drinking 20 beers in an evening before placing her 2-month-old girl Trinity on a pallet on the floor next to her at 2 to 3 in the morning. The mother is charged with second-degree manslaughter.

* State officials lack funds to fully fight the problem.

At the Health Department, about 150 fewer nurses are available to visit poor first-time mothers in their homes and teach them skills because of budget cuts. At its peak early this decade, more than 3,700 women signed up over a year for services from the Children First program. Last fiscal year, only about 2,500 new mothers enrolled in the program.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services volunteered last year to help pay for a public awareness campaign called Think Prevent Live but came up with funds to produce commercials on only three of five issues so far. It would take another $24,000 or so to complete the project. Oklahoma broadcasters air the commercials for free.

* Traffic accidents kill a lot of children. Often the child is not strapped in the vehicle.

In its latest annual report, the Oklahoma Child Death Review Board wrote, “From the board's inception, motor vehicle related fatalities have consistently been the leading cause of death” in cases it studied extensively.

The board reported that in 2007 it reviewed the circumstances behind 68 deaths of children who were riding in a car, van, pickup or sport utility vehicle. The board found most — 41 — were unrestrained. has disabled the comments for this article.

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