The unexpected death of an infant is a profound tragedy made more difficult when there are no obvious answers to why the death occurred. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of an infant who is less than 1 year old and whose death is unexpected and cannot be explained after a thorough case investigation. SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies from 1 month to 1 year of age. Each year in Oklahoma about 35 babies die due to SIDS.
In an effort to reduce the number of infants dying from SIDS and other causes in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Maternal and Child Health Service launched the Preparing for a Lifetime, It's Everyone's Responsibility initiative in 2007 to reduce infant mortality. One focus of this initiative has been to impact the rate of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths by focusing on such activities as the National Back to Sleep campaign, which is credited for reducing SIDS deaths by 50 percent just by emphasizing that babies should be placed on their backs, not tummies, to sleep.
Doctors agree that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in your room in a separate sleep area. The OSDH and the American Academy of Pediatrics offer the following infant safety recommendations:
Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night.
Use a firm sleep surface, such as a 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.
Make sure nothing covers baby's head.
Dress your baby in light sleep clothing, such as a one-piece sleeper, and do not use a blanket.
Breastfeeding is recommended and is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS.
Baby should be up-to-date on all immunizations.
Baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else.
Do not use pillows, blankets, sheepskins, or crib bumpers anywhere in your baby's sleep area.
Do not smoke or let anyone smoke around your baby.
Never place a crib near a window with mini-blind or curtain cords, or near baby monitor cords; babies can strangle on cords.
Remember tummy time! Place baby on his or her stomach while awake and someone is watching. Tummy time helps baby's head, neck and shoulder muscles develop.
To learn more about safe sleep or the Preparing for a Lifetime, It's Everyone's Responsibility initiative, visit http://iio.health.ok.gov, and talk with your baby's health care provider. For information on crib safety guidelines, contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 1-800-638-2772 or http://www.cpsc.gov.