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For Release: October 12, 2010
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

Statewide Initiative Promotes Safe Sleep Tips to Save Infants’ Lives

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a leading cause of infant death in Oklahoma. One goal of the statewide infant and child health initiative, Preparing for a Lifetime, It’s Everyone’s Responsibility, is to help reduce infant mortality by focusing on SIDS awareness and other sleep-related deaths. 

“Many parents and caregivers do not understand the risks that unsafe sleep environments pose for infants,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline.

In a review of undetermined infant deaths occurring in Oklahoma from 2004-2007, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Injury Prevention Service found that in 89 percent of the deaths, the infant was in an unsafe sleeping environment or an unsafe sleeping position. Most of the infants who died were 1 to 3 months of age. In 70 percent of the deaths, infants were sleeping with adults or other children. This study was corroborated by Oklahoma Child Death Review Board data from cases reviewed in 2009. In addition to seven SIDS deaths and seven sleep-related infant suffocation deaths, the board also reviewed 61 child deaths that were ruled undetermined or unknown.  Nearly 84 percent of the undetermined deaths were infant deaths where the pathologist noted that unsafe sleep environments may have contributed to the death, with the majority of these deaths involving an infant sleeping in an adult bed or on a couch.

According to research by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), infants are 40 times more likely to suffocate in an adult bed than in a crib.

To create a safe sleep environment, the AAP recommends parents and caregivers provide a safe crib, a firm mattress, and a snug-fitting crib sheet. The crib should be free of toys and other soft bedding, including fluffy blankets, comforters, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads, and wedges.

This month the OSDH is offering interactive crib displays that feature an unsafe crib and a safe crib, based on AAP recommendations for safe sleep. The cribs will be on display in the atrium area at the OSDH, located at 1000 NE 10th St. in Oklahoma City, from 1 pm to 3 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the month of October.

“We encourage parents, caregivers, health care providers and the general public to drop by and view the crib display to learn more about safe sleep practices for infants,” said Cline.

As part of its observance of October as SIDS Awareness Month, the OSDH encourages parents to follow these AAP guidelines for a safe sleep environment for their infants: 

  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep at nighttime and naptime. Tell everyone caring for your baby to do the same.
  • Place your baby in his or her own separate sleep area in the same room with caregiver(s).
  • Keep your baby’s sleep area free from secondhand smoke.
  • Use a 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.
  • Remember, adult beds, sofas, and chairs are not for sleeping babies and can greatly increase the risk of SIDS, suffocation and accidental infant deaths.

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

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