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October is SIDS Awareness Month

Monday, October 23, 2006 | 07:00pm

October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month and the Tennessee Department of Health is promoting safe practices to protect infants from SIDS. Also known as “crib death,” SIDS is the death of a healthy baby that dies quickly, without warning and remains unexplained after all known causes have been ruled out through autopsy, death scene investigation and review of the medical history. SIDS has been linked to poor sleep practices, and is twice as high in African-American babies than whites. 

“Like many health indicators in Tennessee, SIDS is another cause of death that disproportionately affects minority children,” said Health Commissioner Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D. “There are steps, though, that parents and guardians can take to protect their communities and families from SIDS and other factors contributing to infant mortality.” 

Currently, Tennessee is ranked 48th in the nation for infant mortality rate (8.6), the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births, with only two states that have higher rates. The Department’s “1 for All “campaign is aimed at developing strategies to reduce infant deaths in local communities where infant mortality is more prevalent. 

SIDS is the number one cause of infant mortality in the post neonatal period in Tennessee (babies 28 days old and older). Most SIDS deaths occur in infants 6 months of age or younger, and more often in boys. Parents and caregivers should follow simple practices to reduce the risks of SIDS in newborns: 

  • Place babies on their backs to sleep.
  • Keep toys and loose bedding out of cribs. Do not put fluffy blankets, comforters, stuffed toys or pillows near the baby to prevent suffocation.
  • Place babies on firm, flat sleep surfaces and never on pillows, waterbeds, sheepskin or other soft surfaces.
  • Do not let your baby overheat during sleep. To avoid overheating, cover the baby only with a light blanket that reaches no further than the shoulders.
  • Do not smoke, drink or use drugs while pregnant and do not expose your baby to secondhand smoke. Infants of mothers who smoked during pregnancy are three times more likely to die of SIDS than those whose mothers were smoke-free; exposure to secondhand smoke doubles a baby’s risk of SIDS.
  • Place babies in their crib to sleep. Do not share a bed with a baby.

For information on the SIDS program in Tennessee, please go to http://www2.state.tn.us/health/MCH/SIDS/index.htm.  For questions about babies, pregnancy or reducing infant mortality, please call 1-800-LIVE-TO-1 or visit http://state.tn.us/health/infantmortality/. A toolkit is available for free download on the Web site with materials to create a display on how to prevent and reduce infant mortality in your community.

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