Posted: Sep 4, 2012 at 10:32 AM [Sep 4, 2012]
- Michigan Infant Death Toll is Cause for Concern
- September is Safe Sleep Month
Ann Arbor, Mich. – Nearly 150 Michigan infant sleep-related deaths are reported each year -- equivalent to six classrooms of children. In Washtenaw and Livingston Counties, unsafe sleep environments are the leading cause of accidental death, among infants, surpassing car crashes, drowning, fire, and poisonings.
“In the last three years in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties, we have experienced nearly 20 infant deaths due to unsafe sleep environments,” said Amber Kroeker, Safe Kids Huron Valley Coordinator and Injury Prevention Health Educator for Mott Children’s Hospital. “Sadly, these numbers reflect suffocation incidents that could have been prevented, and do not include infant deaths that were identified by the medical examiner as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or undetermined causes.”
According to Kroeker, scene reenactments have enabled Mott Children’s Hospital to better understand how sleep related deaths occur. “Due to this practice, the label of ‘SIDS death’ has decreased, but suffocation deaths due to unsafe sleep environments have actually increased due to a better understanding of circumstances surrounding these preventable deaths,” said Kroeker.
This is why Safe Kids Huron Valley has joined forces with several Livingston and Washtenaw County agencies, including the Washtenaw Area Council for Children (WACC) and the Livingston County Department of Public Health, to raise awareness with new parents and caregivers about how to keep newborns and infants safe while sleeping.
Since 2005, the WACC has been the lead agency for Infant Safe Sleep education in Washtenaw County. Debbie Hardcastle conducts workshops each month with expecting couples and parents to review safe sleep habits and crib safety. (For the WACC workshop schedule, call 734-434-4215.) St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and the University of Michigan Hospital also recognize the problem and are actively working to make parents more aware of safe-sleep practices.
First-time parents may be influenced by older family members who are not aware of the new guidelines for safe sleep. “Many older caregivers were taught to place the infant on his/her belly in the crib,” said Kroeker. “However, research of infant deaths has revealed that to reduce the risk of accidental suffocation, the WACC, the Livingston County Department of Public Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and Safe Kids USA recommends:
Room-sharing without Bedsharing
The AAP recommends room-sharing because it is safer than bed-sharing and will decrease the risk of SIDS and the possibility of suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment that might occur when the infant is sleeping in the adult’s bed.
Cribs and Bedding
Over the past two years, millions of cribs have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for unsafe conditions. All new cribs on the market today meet the safety standards of the CPSC. However, if getting a used crib, parents should check to see if it has been recalled at www.recalls.gov. Also, parents should NEVER attempt to repair a broken crib. Infants should be put to sleep on a firm mattress that fits snugly in the frame. NOTHING should be placed in the crib with the infant (blankets, pillows, toys, bumper pads).
“We encourage parents to keep their baby warm by placing their baby in a sleep sack, which is a wearable blanket,” said Hardcastle, WACC’s Infant Safe Sleep Coordinator. “Safe Kids Huron Valley has purchased these as a free gift for parents who attend the WACC’s Safe Sleep classes.” Hardcastle says a March of Dimes Grant is also enabling the WACC to offer a free gift basket to parents who attend their one hour “Safe Baby” class.
For more information on infant safe sleep habits, visit:
About Safe Kids Huron Valley
Safe Kids Huron Valley, which includes Livingston and Washtenaw counties, works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children through age 14. Safe Kids Huron Valley is a member of Safe Kids Michigan and Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Huron Valley is proudly led by University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. For more information about Safe Kids, visit: www.safekids.org or www.michigansafekids.org. For more information about Safe Kids Huron Valley, visit us on Facebook.