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FOR RELEASE: October 27, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

SIDS Awareness Says “Back To Sleep” Is Best for Babies
October is SIDS Awareness Month

Each year, some 2,500 babies in the United States die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and about 40 of those are Oklahoma babies. To help reduce the number of deaths from SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) are encouraging parents and caregivers to put babies to sleep on their backs.

“In 1992, the AAP first recommended that all healthy infants be placed on their sides or backs for sleep and the national death rate from SIDS has been decreasing since then. A national campaign called “Back to Sleep” is one of the reasons for the successful decline in SIDS deaths,” said OSDH Deputy Commissioner Dr. Edd Rhoades.

The Oklahoma death rate from SIDS has declined since 1992, but not to the extent seen in many other states. In a survey conducted by the OSDH Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), only 46 percent of the mothers reported placing their babies on their backs to sleep most of the time.

“We still need to get the message out in Oklahoma that ‘Back To Sleep’ can save a baby’s life. We hope this message will be repeated all year long and not just during October, SIDS Awareness Month,” Rhoades said.

The OSDH, AAP, U. S. Public Health Service, SIDS Alliance, and the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs all recommend that healthy infants be placed on their backs to sleep.

The OSDH and the SIDS Alliance recommend:

  • Back is the best sleep position for all healthy infants.
  • Infants should be placed on a firm, flat surface in a safety-approved crib or bassinet for sleep. Babies should never be placed on waterbeds, pillows, soft materials, or loose bedding.
  • The infant’s sleep environment must be free of quilts, comforters, pillows, and stuffed animals. A baby’s face should be clear of covering.
  • Babies that are overheated are at increased risk of SIDS. Dress your baby in as much or as little as you would wear.
  • Don’t allow anyone to smoke around your baby.
  • Infants should sleep only in cribs or bassinets that meet federal safety standards. Infants who share a bed with an adult or another child are at increased risk of infant death.
  • Sleeping with an infant on a couch, recliner, or cushioned chair is dangerous and places infants at substantial risk for asphyxia or suffocation.

For more information about SIDS, contact Ellen Wisdom at the OSDH Maternal and Child Health Service at 405/271-4471. For additional information, see these suggested Web sites: www.sidsresources.org ; www.sids-network.org ; and www.sidsalliance.org .


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