A new program is being piloted at a handful of hospitals across the country to reduce the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.
The program aims to reduce SIDS by teaching safe sleep practices to new families, and also provides “Baby Boxes” to patients who don’t have a separate safe sleep environment – like a crib or bassinet – at home.
The Baby Boxes and educational component of the program are designed with safety in mind, helping to discourage unsafe practices such as sleeping in the same bed with an infant, or a baby sleeping in a crib with toys, pillows, or loose bedding and blankets.
SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants 1 to 12 months old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1,500 U.S. infants died of SIDS in 2014. Although the causes of death in many of these children can’t be explained, most occur while the infant is sleeping in an unsafe sleeping environment.
Banner Desert Medical Center is one of the medical facilities providing this service. March of Dimes provided a $10,500 grant to fund the program, which began at the hospital in May.
“The goal of our project is to increase education and awareness of expectant parents and new families about the various components of a safe sleep environment, in order to reduce the risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and SIDS in Arizona,” said Suzanne Clinton, Women and Infant Services program manager at Banner Desert. “We are very excited to partner with March of Dimes and make a difference for the families who deliver at Banner Desert.”
Banner Desert has been providing new parents with basic education about safe bedding practices for years, but this program includes a more intensive focus on the topic. During the education process, nurses also assess whether a patient will be able to provide a separate sleep environment for their newborn. If not, the hospital will provide a Baby Box in which the newborn can sleep.
Nursing staff will follow up later with every family that receives a Baby Box, to ensure the baby remains in a safe sleep environment.
In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report identifying recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. In addition to placing babies on their backs to sleep, some of these recommendations include:
- Using a firm sleep surface
- Avoiding soft bedding (no extra bedding or stuffed animals in sleeping areas)
- Room-sharing without bed sharing (keeping babies in parent’s rooms in their own sleep bed, not in the parent’s bed)
- Routine immunization
- Offering a pacifier after breastfeeding is established (usually about 3 to 4 weeks of age)
- Not overheating the baby with more clothing than necessary
- Not smoking around babies
For information about the safe bedding practices program at Banner Desert, call Suzanne Clinton at 480-412-5292.