September is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month

Michigan Governor Whitmer has declared September 2020 as Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month to highlight the importance of preventing sleep-related infant deaths. A baby in Michigan dies nearly every other day due to sleeping in an unsafe sleep environment – that’s over 140 babies every year.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the unexpected and sudden death of apparently healthy babies, is the third leading cause of infant death, behind premature birth and medical conditions.

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare; putting their baby to sleep and discovering the next morning that the child has passed away. In the U.S., more than 3,500 infants die each year from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS and from what experts describe as “other sleep-related causes of infant death”. Sparing families the incomprehensible tragedy has been a long-term goal of the Welcome Newborns program.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the sudden death of an infant younger than one year of age that remains unexplained after a complete investigation, which may include an autopsy, a review of the death scene, and a review of family and medical histories. They have also learned that even the healthiest of infants may be at increased risk of death just from the environment they are sleeping in.

Research has shown that the very first time an infant is placed face down to sleep is when SIDS occurs. In addition, research has shown that three out of four of the sleep related deaths involve children sleeping in unsafe locations such as adult beds and two out of three deaths involve infants who were not sleeping on their backs.

The good news is that by providing infants with an appropriate sleep environment, it is possible to greatly reduce the risk of SIDS and the risk for what researchers now call “sudden unexpected infant deaths.” For more than seventeen years, the Welcome Newborns program has participated in a campaign to advise parents, caregivers and health care providers on safe infant sleep practices.

Established in 1996, the mission of the Welcome Newborns program is to provide support to newborns and their families by identifying community resources and providing research based educational material regarding child development, caring for their child, child abuse prevention and parenting. The Delta County Welcome Newborns program is educating new parents on their baby’s Safe Sleep environment. Caregivers are often unaware of risk reduction practices, including placing babies on their backs to sleep, choosing safe bedding, keeping babies from overheating, choosing breastfeeding when possible, and creating tobacco free environments.

Despite a 25-year campaign urging that babies be put to bed on their backs, only 43% of US mothers report that they both intend to use this method and actually do so all of the time. The Safe to Sleep campaign has been telling both caregivers and parents to use this position since 1994.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, placing babies on their backs nap time and night time reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, an unexplained fatal condition also known as SIDS, as well as other sleep-related infant deaths like suffocation.

“As a part of our efforts to reduce the number of infant deaths in Delta County, our Welcome Newborns program of Delta County distributes free Halo Sleep Sacks (premium wearable blankets) to Delta County parents regardless of their income or where their baby was born” said Lannie Berg, Welcome Newborns Program Coordinator. The free wearable blankets are available during the last trimester of their pregnancy, or following their baby’s birth. Designed by a parent who lost an infant to SIDS, the wearable blanket replaces loose blankets which can cover the baby’s face and interfere with breathing. The HALO Sleep Sack allows parents and caregivers to remove loose blankets from their baby’s crib and still keep the baby cozy, warm and safe throughout the night and nap time. Every HALO Sleep Sack Swaddle and HALO Sleep Sack wearable blanket reinforces back sleeping with the message “Back is Best” embroidered on the front of each safe sleep garment.

Delta County parents can contact the Welcome Newborns Program of Delta County to request free Premium wearable blankets. The HALO Sleep Sacks are available during the last three months of pregnancy or following the birth of their baby. The HALO Sleep Sacks are available in either cotton or fleece. The Newborn size has an approved attached swaddle and fits newborns that weigh six to 12 pounds and Size Small does not have a swaddle and fits babies that weigh between twelve and eighteen pounds

To learn more about SIDS Risk Prevention, or to request free HALO Sleep Sacks, contact Lannie Berg at the Welcome Newborns office located at the Community Action Agency in Escanaba. Due to COVID 19, the building is closed to public walk in traffic but is open to all services. All phone messages will be checked and followed up on. Call the Welcome Newborns office at: (906) 786-7080 ext 143 or email: rolandaberg@yahoo.com.


What Does A Safe Sleep Environment Look Like?

To Reduce the Risk of SIDS:

Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night, every time, to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Remove all loose bedding, comforters, quilts, sheepskins, stuffed animals, bumpers, wedges, and pillows from your baby’s crib.

Use a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet.

Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area.

It is recommended that the baby’s crib be placed in the parent’s room for the first year.

Place your baby to sleep on his or her back for nap time and night time.

Dress your baby in sleep clothing, such as a one-piece sleeper, or a HALO Sleep Sack, and do not use a blanket.

Make sure nothing covers the baby’s head.

Do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby.

Do not let your baby get overheated during sleep. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.

Do Not Bed Share…But Do Room Share. Baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else.


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