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Senate supports bill requiring more info for unexplained infant deaths

The Senate has voted in favor of legislation requiring standardized investigations following the sudden, unexplained death of infants in Oklahoma.  Sen. Stephanie Bice is principal author of Senate Bill 1893, which was approved unanimously on Wednesday. 

Bice, R-Oklahoma City, said the bill was requested by Ali Dodd, an Edmond constituent whose baby died almost five 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 were documented. 

“Her baby was only 11 weeks old and was left swaddled, unbuckled and unrestrained in a car seat for two hours on the floor behind a closed door, yet none of those risks were documented,” Bice said.  “Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate is the third worst of any state in the country. Doing thorough investigations and documenting the findings can help us be pro-active with policies and laws that can save lives.”          

SB 1893 directs the medical examiner to conduct a sudden unexplained infant death investigation (SUIDI) within 48 hours of the baby’s death.  Information collected would include known medical histories, how the infant was found, how they are placed and other pertinent information.           

Dodd said her main motivation in working with Bice to pass SB 1893 is to prevent other families from experiencing the loss and pain her own has endured.       

“Between 70 and 75 percent of infant deaths in Oklahoma are listed as unknown or undetermined,” Dodd said.  “Unknown and undetermined can’t help us save lives.  Standardized death investigations will help us identify risk factors and do a better job of preventing infant deaths in the first place.”           

SB 1893 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.         

For more information, contact Sen. Stephanie Bice at 405-521-5592 or email Stephanie.Bice@oksenate.gov.

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