In the meantime, researchers are searching for evidence-based recommendations so that pregnant mothers can prevent preterm births and therefore reduce the risk of infant mortality. Currently, says Lackritz, there aren't any known interventions (beyond staying in good health and not smoking, drinking or using drugs) that would have a far-reaching impact on the entire population.
The hormone progesterone is used in an intramuscular injection, called 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate, which may reduce risk in women who have given birth prematurely before.
"If we can increase access to that injectable medication, that can decrease preterm birth," said Currier, the Mississippi health officer.
Dykes received this injection with her next two children, whom she nearly carried nearly to full term although she had to have planned Caesarean sections with them.
Other methods for preventing preterm births have not proved useful scientifically. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says bed rest, hydration and pelvic rest do not appear to improve the rate of preterm birth and should not be routinely recommended.
Mississippi's infant mortality rate, although still the highest in the country, is slightly lower than it has ever been for the state, Currier said. The dip isn't statistically significant, but "at least we're going in the right direction," she said.
Cooper and Dykes both said they did everything right before giving birth to infants who died. They got all the prenatal care and education they needed. Neither woman was a teenager during pregnancy. They both work, and so do their husbands. They both have health insurance.
So the search for answers about infant mortality trends continues. The Dykes family tries to raise awareness for the cause through the March of Dimes, participating in the March of Dimes Walk to raise money in Jesse's memory.
Cooper now volunteers with the Mississippi SIDS Alliance to spread awareness. Such organizations exist, she says, not only for educational outreach, but "so that we can be strong and move on, and go through the proper stages of grief."
Both women are also strong in their faith.
"We just pretty much believe that God had a purpose for (Jesse), and he did touch a lot of lives while he was here," Dykes said. "We just have to believe that we don't have to understand."