from Tulsa World
by Kim Archer
The mortality rate for infants of Oklahoma high school dropouts is nearly double the rate for children of mothers who completed college, a new national study states.
Released by the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the study is the first of its kind to link child health to a parent's income and educational level, said Dr. Paula Braveman, one of the study's authors.
"What may be most startling to pople is that middle-class children also fare worse than children in wealthy families," she said during a media teleconference this week.
Overall, the general health of Oklahoma children in every income or education group did not meet the national benchmark, the report said.
The findings don't surprise Jan Figart, associate director of Tulsa's Community Service Council.
"The relationship between poor child health status and high poverty and low education of the mother has been known for some time," she said.
According to the report, nearly half of Oklahoma children live in poor or near-poor households. A third live in middle-income households, and one-fifth live in high-income households, the report said.
Oklahoma was ranked as having the 40th-largest gap in the country between infant mortality and the mother's education.
In other words, the state's infant mortality rate among the least-educated mothers is 7.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, higher than the 4.7 deaths per 1,000 live births among the most-educated mothers, the report said. The national benchmark is 3.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, it said.
Oklahoma ranked as having the 34th-largest gap between child health and family income among states. Among lower-income Oklahoma families, 13.7 percent of children have lower than optimal health, while 5.3 percent of children in higher-income families have less than optimal health, the report said.
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