OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation to require standardized investigations following the sudden, unexplained deaths of infants in Oklahoma has been signed into law. Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City, and Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, are principal authors of Senate Bill 95, aimed at helping make sure families get more information about the circumstances and possible causes of a baby’s unexplained death.
The bill was originally requested by Edmond mother Ali Dodd, whose baby died almost six years ago at a state-licensed day care center due to an unsafe sleep environment. The medical examiner listed the cause of death as unknown/undetermined. No information about the specific circumstances or contributing factors was documented, including the fact that her 11-week-old baby was left swaddled, unbuckled, and unrestrained in a car seat for two hours on the floor beyond a closed door.
“Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate has been above the national average since 1992, and between 70 and 75 percent of infant deaths in Oklahoma are listed as unknown or undetermined. Data from thorough, standardized investigations will help us be proactive with policies and statutes that can help save lives,” Stanley said. “I want to thank Ali for sharing her story and working so hard on this issue, U.S. Representative Stephanie Bice, who worked on this last year, my co-author, Representative Miller, our fellow legislators for their support, and Governor Stitt for signing SB 95 into law.”
Under the provisions of SB 95, the medical examiner would conduct a sudden, unexplained infant death investigation (SUIDI) within 48 hours of the baby’s death. The examiner would also be required to interview the parent, legal guardian, caregiver, or the person who last had contact with the infant. Information collected would include known medical histories, how the infant was found, how they were placed and other pertinent details.
“It’s my sincerest hope that, with the passage of this bill, we’ll gather better quality information from these investigations and ultimately learn how to address these outcomes, so Oklahoma families can be spared the horrible heartache of losing a child,” Miller said. “I look forward to seeing the good that this bill can do and am very grateful it received wide support in the House.”
Dodd extended her thanks to all who helped get the measure signed into law.
“First, I want to thank U.S. Representative Bice who carried this bill last session, Senator Stanley, Representative Miller, the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, the Medical Examiner’s office, and a past death investigator who helped craft this bill and make it better. Oklahomans value our babies and our families and my hope is that this new law will help identify actionable risk factors during infant death investigations, so we can continue to see fewer preventable infant deaths in our state. And finally, I want to thank Governor Stitt for signing this bill,” Dodd said. “My family is so grateful to be allowed to continue to be involved with this very important work.
For more information, contact Sen. Brenda Stanley at 405-521-5584 or email Brenda.Stanley@oksenate.gov