Oklahoma has seen fewer babies die in recent years before their first birthday, health leaders said Tuesday.
Officials at Tuesday’s state Board of Health meeting discussed the progress made in reducing Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate, the rate in which Oklahoma’s babies die before their first birthday.
In Oklahoma, the infant mortality rate has decreased by 13 percent in the last five years from 8.6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 7.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012.
Stephen Ronck, deputy commissioner of community and family health services, said this decrease represented 72 Oklahoma babies who lived past their first birthday.
“If data continues to hold true, we hope to see another major decrease in infant mortality,” Ronck said during his board presentation. “I hope I can stand up here at some point and tell you about that.”
Although Oklahoma has seen a decrease, the state has a long way to go.
Oklahoma has the seventh highest infant mortality rate in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and Louisiana have higher rates, according to the CDC.
Infant mortality rate is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a nation because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also impact the mortality rate of infants, according to the CDC.