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FOR RELEASE: April 6, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Oklahoma SIDS Deaths Not Declining As Fast As Rest of Nation

Deaths of infants in Oklahoma from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) are not declining as fast as the rest of the nation, according to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

In 1994, there were 58 infant deaths from SIDS in Oklahoma, compared to 51 deaths in 1999. The risk of SIDS is highest for infants aged 2 months to 4 months. From 1994 through 1999, a total of 313 infants died from SIDS in Oklahoma.

A national campaign called Back to Sleep was launched in 1994 to get parents to place infants on their backs when they sleep. At the time, 70 percent of infants were sleeping on their stomachs. Today, only about 20 percent of infants sleep on their stomachs, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. This campaign has reduced SIDS deaths by 40 percent nationally, yet in Oklahoma, SIDS deaths are not declining as quickly.

Of particular concern is that black infants are twice as likely to be placed in risky sleep positions as white infants.

"While some parents are getting the message to have infants sleep on their backs, many are not. We need to encourage the media, parents, caregivers, and neighbors to help spread the word and educate the public about risky sleep positions for infants. More public health education should help us lower the number of deaths in Oklahoma," said State Health Commissioner J.R. Nida, M.D.

As part of the Back to Sleep message, the OSDH recommends the following safety tips:

  • Place infants to sleep on their backs.
  • Infants should never sleep on waterbeds, sofas, soft mattresses or other soft surfaces.
  • Do not place soft materials like pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and stuffed toys near sleeping infants.
  • Do not expose infants to cigarette smoke before or after birth, as the risk of SIDS doubles.
  • Only place infants on their stomachs when they are awake and can be supervised. This is important for developmental purposes and to help prevent flat spots from forming on the back of infants' heads.
  • If possible, breastfeed your baby. Breastmilk helps keep your baby healthy.

For more information about SIDS, contact the following:

National SIDS Alliance: 1-800-221-7437, Web site - www.sidsalliance.org
Oklahoma SIDS Alliance: 405/235-7437 or 1-800-248-7437
Oklahoma State Department of Health SIDS Program: 405/271-4470

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