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For Release:  October 27, 2009 
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications 
(405) 271-5601

Survey Reveals Ways to Reduce Oklahoma’s Infant Mortality Using Safe Sleep Practices
Preparing for a Lifetime, It’s Everyone’s Responsibility

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) in cooperation with the Perinatal Continuing Education Program, University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, announced today that a new infant safe sleep educational tool has been developed to help hospital staff and other infant caregivers reduce infant mortality in Oklahoma.

“These efforts are part of a new initiative called Preparing for a Lifetime,  It’s Everyone’s Responsibility  to improve infant outcomes in Oklahoma and to help reduce infant mortality by asking health care providers to share information about safe sleep practices for infants with parents and caregivers of infants,” said State health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline.

The new Infant Safe Sleep Education Tool is available on-line, at no charge, for medical professionals on the Training Finder Real-time Affiliate Integrated Network (OK TRAIN).  Continuing education credit and a certificate of completion are available upon successful completion of the course.  To access the Infant Safe Sleep Education Tool, go to https://ok.train.org/DesktopShell.aspx (course ID #1017251). The Perinatal Continuing Education Program is an approved provider of continuing nursing education by the Colorado Nurses Association and an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission Accreditation.  Currently, OSDH is modifying the education tool for Early Care and Education Providers as well as social service and home visitation programs.

The educational tool was developed by OSDH in response to findings from a 2009 statewide Infant Safe Sleep Survey of hospitals that deliver 15 or more babies per year.  Hospital staff indicated a need for more information about safe sleep practices for infants. The survey also indicated a need for a standardized written hospital policy regarding infant safe sleep.  First Candle provides a sample hospital policy that Oklahoma hospitals may adopt to ensure that every parent leaving the hospital is aware of and prepared to adopt safe sleep practices for their family. The model policy was developed by First Candle/Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Alliance, the National SIDS, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Infant Death Program Support Center. 

SIDS and other sleep-related deaths are a leading cause of infant mortality in Oklahoma. There were 105 Oklahoma infant death cases, due to unsafe sleeping practices, reviewed in 2007 by the Oklahoma Child Death Review Board. The most common ways that babies die due to unsafe sleep practices are wedging (getting stuck between items such as pillows) and overlay (another person lying on the baby).

“We hope the web based, on-line training on safe sleep, and the infant safe sleep model policy, will help us continue to reduce infant mortality rates and get the most updated information distributed to the parents of infants,” said Dr. Cline.

Since the start of the 1992 Back to Sleep initiative, the AAP recommended that infants be placed on their backs to sleep, the number of national SIDS cases has been cut in half from 1.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1992 to 0.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005.  Oklahoma cases for the same time period reflected a decline from 1.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1992 to 0.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005.

The following five key areas addressed by the AAP and others are:  sleep position, bedding/soft materials, crib/bed sharing and breastfeeding, swaddling/bundling and tobacco exposure.  The highlights include some of the following information to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep related deaths:

  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep at nighttime and naptime.
  • Avoid smoking during pregnancy and do not smoke or allow anyone else to smoke in the house, car, or anywhere your baby will be! Free help to quit smoking is available in Oklahoma call 1-800-Quit Now (1-800-784-8669).
  • Place your baby in his or her own separate sleep area in the same room with caregiver(s).
  • Use safety approved crib or bassinet with a firm mattress and tight fitting sheet.
  • Keep your baby’s sleep space free of toys and other soft bedding, including fluffy blankets, comforters, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads, and wedges.
  • Do not overheat or overdress your baby. Room temperature should be comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.
  • Offer your baby a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.
  • Remember, adult beds, sofas, and chairs are not for sleeping babies and can greatly increase the risk of SIDS, suffocation and accidental infant deaths. There have been reports of infants being suffocated by an adult, sibling, other family member, or pet that rolled on top of the infant while sharing a bed or other sleep area such as couch or chair.
  • Tell everyone caring for your baby to place baby to sleep on the back at all times, even for naps.

For more information about safe sleep, contact the OSDH Maternal and Child Health Service at (405) 271-4480 or view the OSDH website Preparing for a Lifetime, It’s Everyone’s Responsibility at www.health.ok.gov


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