The Middlesex District Attorney's office is launching a campaign to educate parents on putting their infant to sleep safely, an initiative timed with recognizing October as National Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, Awareness Month.
SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies aged 1 month to 1 year of age, and an average of 41 infants die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in Massachusetts, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan's office. Reviews founds that many of those deaths are because of accidental suffocation, which can happen when infants are put to sleep unsafely, the district attorney's office said.
The office will distribute “Let Your Baby Breathe” fliers to hospitals, birthing centers, pediatricians, and community organizations. The campaign will also include a website with tips and resources for parents.
Partnering medical centers will also train their pediatricians to discuss infant sleeping safety with new parents at initial follow-up visits following the baby's birth.
The Middlesex District Attorney's office will also produce a public safety video about the issue.
In a statement, Ryan said the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a blanket- and pillow-free area that is also devoid of bumpers.
"There are a lot of mixed messages out there about what is a safe sleep environment and we hope this campaign provides clear information for parents and caregivers," Ryan said. "SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants, thus this campaign is one way we can make sure no family has to suffer the loss of a child."
Parents and caregivers can reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths by following these guidelines:
• Always place baby on his or her back to sleep -- for naps and at night
• Keep baby’s sleep area free of pillows, soft or loose bedding, padded bumpers, soft objects, and toys
• Place baby to sleep in a separate sleep area close to where you or others sleep
• Place baby in a safety-approved crib with a firm mattress and a tightly fitted sheet
• Do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not allow smoking around the baby
• Give baby plenty of tummy time when awake and when someone is watching
• Prevent overheating by not over-dressing baby and by keeping the room temperature between 68 and 72 degrees
• Frequently checking on your baby
• Call 911 immediately if the baby is not responding
• Talk to ALL caregivers about the importance of safe sleep practices
Partners in this initiative include Lowell General Hospital, Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and Winchester Hospital.
The safe sleep initiative was developed by the district attorney's new task force Safe Babies Safe Kids, which grew out of the Middlesex Shaken Baby Task Force and the Middlesex Child Fatality Review Team by expanding the focus to include all types of preventable death and injury to infants and children.
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org